Noun Clauses #1

      The English language is full of Noun ClausesA Noun Clause is made up of a group of words with a Noun and a Verb.

  • A Noun is the name of a person, animal, place, thing, (or state;  for example: happiness, excitement).
  • In other words, a Noun is the name of someone or something.
  • ‘Noun’ means ‘name’.
  • A Pronoun (it, she, you, him, this, etc.) replaces a noun. If you can replace a group of words with a pronoun, then that group of words is a type of Noun. In the following examples, the group of words is a Noun Clause.

A Noun Clause can be the subject, the object, or the complement in a sentence.

* Subject: Whatever Taylor Swift sings becomes a hit.                                      jk                                   It                              becomes a hit.            

* Object: Did you know that Taylor Swift is only twenty-five?                            jk              Did you know                          this?                 

* Subject Complement: Taylor Swift’s beauty and talent are what many girls dream of. m                                        Taylor Swift’s beauty and talent are                    this.

The Noun Clause can usually be identified by asking a question about the remainder of the sentence: (The answer to ‘What …?’ is usually a noun.)

Question:What becomes a hit?    Answer: whatever Taylor Swift sings         Question:What did I know?                  Answer: that Taylor Swift is only twenty-five?Question: What are Taylor Swift’s beauty and talent? A: what many girls dream of.

      There are many Noun Clause Markers. (Markers ‘introduce’ or ‘signal’ various grammar points.) Noun Clause Markers introduce Noun Clauses. ‘That’ is the only Noun Clause Marker that is optional.

Noun Clause Markers can be summarised as:

that, if, whether,

what, when, how, where,  and other wh… question words . Also:

whatever, whenever, however, and other wh … ever words.

The Noun Clause Markers used in the above sentences are: whatever, that, and what.

There are various ways of learning about Noun Clauses, but for this post I’m just going to focus on a few in Taylor Swift’s song Blank Space. Have a look at the chorus; the Noun Clauses are in pink. Try replacing the Noun Clauses with a pronoun.


So it’s *gonna be forever or it’s *gonna go down in flames.                            You can tell me  when it’s over  if the high was worth the pain.
(I’ve) Got a long list of ex-lovers.         
They’ll tell you I’m insane,
‘Cause you know I love the players, and    
you love the game.

* gonna = going to

You can tell me when it’s over if the high was worth the pain.     Did you replace the Noun Clause with ‘this‘ or ‘it’? → You can tell me ‘this’.

They’ll tell you (that) I’m insane,      Did you replace the Noun Clause with ‘this’ or ‘it’? → They’ll tell you ‘this’. (This line is an example of reported speech, which uses Noun Clauses.)

‘Cause you know (that) I love the players,      Did you replace the Noun Clause with this’ or ‘it’? → ‘Cause you know ‘it’,

‘Cause you know (that) you love the game.    Did you replace the Noun Clause with ‘this’ or ‘it’? → ‘Cause you know ‘it’. ** There are two Noun Clauses in this part of the sentence:

1. ‘Cause you know (that) I love the players, 2. ‘Cause you know) (that) you love the game.  

 This is an easy chorus to sing and remember. Sing along a few times while watching the video, and you will soon be able to recall these examples of Noun Clauses. For a further explanation of Noun Clauses, click here for the Eslgold website. Click here and here for practice exercises. If you would like to practise forming Noun Clauses in indirect (embedded) questions, click here.

Click here for Noun Clauses #2

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This entry was posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, Grammar, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Songs, TOEFL, TOEIC, Upper Intermediate (Level 5) and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Noun Clauses #1

  1. Maria says:

    Hello! Thanks so much for the explanation. I have a doubt: Why this part of the song isn’t a noun clause? “You can tell me when it’s over”


    • mhardy3222 says:

      Hello Maria,

      Thank you for your comment and question. I remember giving this a lot of thought when I wrote the post. It’s quite tricky. Let’s look at the sentence:
      You can tell me when it’s over if the high was worth the pain.

      ‘When it’s over’ is actually an Adverb Clause, because it shows ‘when’ you can tell me. It’s not ‘something'(a noun) you can tell me. The ‘something’is ‘if the high was worth the pain’. You can tell me if the high was worth the pain.

      Try replacing ‘when it’s over’ with an adverb like ‘tomorrow’. You can tell me tomorrow. ‘Tomorrow’ is not ‘something’. It’s ‘when’ you can tell me.

      Here is an example of ‘when it’s over’ as a Noun Clause:
      He won’t know when it’s over, but Taylor Swift will. There’s ‘something’ he won’t know.

      I hope this explanation helps Maria.

      Mary Hardy


      • Maria says:

        Thanks a billion! Actually, a figured it out later in a different way. Noun clauses can be the subject or the object. When it’s over isn’t the object. The IF clause is the object. Anyway, I really like your blog! Thanks for sharing!


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