The Uses of Grammar

By Judith Rodby; W. Ross Winterowd | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10
Nominals: Noun Clauses

CHAPTER PREVIEW
Like a sentence, a clause is a structural unit. It has a noun phrase and a verb phrase (in traditional terminology, a subject and a predicate).
Sentence
NOUN PHRASE VERB PHRASE
(SUBJECT) (PREDICATE)
Music lovers enjoy Mahler's symphonies.
Clause (object of the verb know)
NOUN PHRASE VERB PHRASE
(SUBJECT) (PREDICATE)
We know that music loversenjoy Mahler's symphonies.
A sentence has at least one clause, but a clause is not a sentence if it is a dependent clause. A dependent clause is part of a sentence so it cannot stand alone as a sentence.
CLAUSE/SENTENCE DEPENDENT CLAUSE
Most people enjoy music if it is well performed.
Most people enjoy music.*If it is well performed.
Clauses that have nominal functions (subject, direct object, etc.) are noun clauses. Dick attended the violin concert is a sentence. It can also function as a nominal in another sentence: Jane thought that Dick attended the violin concert.
Noun clauses are dependent (or subordinate) clauses. They fulfill nominal functions (subject, object, complement) in a sentence.
Noun clauses can be part of other clauses:

Father knows that the kids filch cookies. [noun clause]

Father knows that the kids filch whatever they can. [noun clause within noun
clause]

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