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Author Topic: The seven uses of noun clauses - 3  (Read 111 times)
Joe Carillo
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« on: December 28, 2017, 02:07:30 AM »

We saw last week how noun clauses, being functionally nouns, can very well do the roles of subject, direct object, or indirect object in a sentence. This time we will take up how they do their four other roles: as object of a preposition, as object complement, as appositive to a subject, and as appositive to an object.

Noun clauses as predicate noun. As a predicate noun, which is also known as predicate nominative, the noun clause works as a subject complement that renames the subject of the sentence. Recall that a subject complement is usually a pronoun, noun phrase, or adjective phrase that follows a linking verb and describes or renames the subject of the sentence.




For example, in “The problem was him,” the pronoun “him” works as a predicate noun describing or renaming the subject “problem.” On the other hand, in “The problem was his insulting remark,” the noun phrase “his insulting remark” works as a predicate noun phrase describing or renaming the subject the subject “problem.”

We can actually give such sentences better texture and make them even more compelling by replacing the predicate noun with a noun clause that carries more information. Take a look at this sentence: “The problem was that he insulted us with that terrible remark.” It uses the noun clause “that he insulted us with that terrible remark” as a predicate adjective, making it deliver a much stronger emotion compared to its version using the noun phrase “his insulting remark.”

Noun clauses as object of a preposition. We will recall that an object of a preposition is a noun-form linked to a verb by “in,” “on,” “at,” or some other preposition. Thus, in the sentence “We discovered discrepancies in her court testimony,” the noun-form “her court testimony” is the object of the preposition “in.” For stronger emotional wallop, we can replace that object of the preposition with a more informative and expressive noun clause, like the noun clause “what she had declared tearfully in open court” in this construction: “We discovered discrepancies in what she had declared tearfully in open court.”




Noun clauses as object complement. We will remember that an object complement is any added word or expression that makes the predication of a sentence complete, as “a fluke” in the sentence “They considered her victory a fluke.” It is a simple matter to convert such object complements into more expressive noun clauses, as the one in this sentence: “They considered her victory what they derisively announced as the result of massive manipulation of the electronic poll results.”




Noun clauses as appositive to the subject. By definition, an appositive is a noun or pronoun set beside another noun or pronoun to explain or identify it, as “baby boomers” is an appositive defining the subject “we” in this sentence: “We baby boomers didn’t have the convenience of using personal computers in our thesis research.” In contrast, take a look at this construction: “We who were born shortly after the end of World War II didn’t have the convenience of using personal computers in our thesis research.” The noun clause “who were born shortly after the end of World War II” is an appositive that has replaced the noun “baby boomers.”




Noun clauses as appositive to the object. Similar to an appositive to the subject, the appositive to the object is a noun or pronoun set beside another noun or pronoun to explain or identify it; the difference is that it defines the object of a sentence, as in this example: “We like those women.” Here, the noun phrase “women” is an appositive to the object “those.” To give more telling details to the sentence, this appositive can take the form of this appositive clause: “We like women who assert their rights in the proper forums.”

(Next: How gerunds and infinitives work)      January 4, 2018

This essay, 1072nd in the series, appeared in the column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in the Campus Press section of the December 28, 2017 issue (print edition only) of The Manila Times, © 2017 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.
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