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Noun Clauses
What is a noun clause?
A noun clause has a subject and a verb and can be used like a noun, either as a subject or an object. Noun
Clauses are introduced by the following words: when, where, why, how, who/whom, whose, what, which, whether,
if, or that. For example:

A noun clause used as a subject:
What he discovered was important.

A noun clause used as an object:
People believed what he discovered.
Nouns beginning with a gerund
A gerund is an –ing verb that is used as a noun.

A gerund used as a subject:
Smoking cigarettes is bad for you.

A gerund used as an object:
Lisa’s favorite activity is writing poetry.
Noun clauses beginning with a question word
Question words such as when, where, why, how, who/whom, whose, what, and which can introduce a noun
clause. Remember! Do not use the same word order for a noun clause that you use for a question. The subject
comes before the verb in the noun clause.
Question
Noun Clause
When did he discover it?
Where did he discover it?
Why did he discover it?
How did he discover it
Who is Faraday?
Whose discovery is that?
What did he discover?
I’m not sure when he discovered it.
Where he discovered it is not known.
I don’t care why he discovered it.
I’m not certain how he discovered it.
I don’t know who Faraday is.
It is not certain whose discovery that is.
What he discovered is not certain.
Noun clauses beginning with whether or if
When a yes/no question is changed to a noun clause, the words whether or if are used to introduce the clause.
Question
Noun Clause
Will her solution work?
He wonders whether her solution will work.
He wonders if her solution will work.
I don’t know whether they believed him.
I don’t know if they believed him.
Did they believe him?
© The George Mason University Writing Center 2014
Noun clauses beginning with that
For a statement of fact or an idea, the word that is used to introduce the noun clause.
Statement
Noun Clause
The world is round.
We know that the world is round.
We know the world is round.
That the world is round is a fact.
Last updated 6/18/2014
© The George Mason University Writing Center 2014
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