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Noun Clause vs. Adjective Clause: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sumera Saeed || Published on January 16, 2024
A noun clause functions as a noun within a sentence, while an adjective clause modifies a noun or pronoun and usually begins with a relative pronoun.

Key Differences

A noun clause is a group of words that acts as a noun in a sentence. It can be a subject, object, or complement within the sentence. In contrast, an adjective clause, also known as a relative clause, modifies a noun or pronoun by providing more information about it.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 16, 2024
Noun clauses often start with words like "that," "what," "who," "whom," "how," or "why." They can state something directly or ask a question indirectly. Adjective clauses usually begin with relative pronouns like "who," "whom," "whose," "which," or "that," and they directly modify a noun or pronoun in a sentence.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 16, 2024
In terms of function, noun clauses can replace any noun in a sentence, such as the subject or object. For example, in the sentence "What she said was surprising," "what she said" is a noun clause serving as the subject. Adjective clauses, however, specifically describe or give information about a noun, as in "The book, which was on the table, is mine," where "which was on the table" modifies "book."
Sumera Saeed
Jan 16, 2024
Noun clauses can stand alone as a response to a question, conveying a complete idea. For instance, in response to "What did he say?" a noun clause answer might be "That he was leaving." On the other hand, adjective clauses cannot stand alone and always need to be attached to a main clause to make sense.
Huma Saeed
Jan 16, 2024
Noun clauses and adjective clauses play different roles in a sentence. Noun clauses act as nouns, while adjective clauses function as modifiers to nouns, each adding depth and complexity to the structure of sentences.
Janet White
Jan 16, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Function

Acts as a noun (subject, object, complement)
Modifies a noun or pronoun
Sumera Saeed
Jan 16, 2024

Common Starters

"that," "what," "who," "why," "how"
"who," "whom," "whose," "which," "that"
Sumera Saeed
Jan 16, 2024

Example Role in Sentence

"What she did was amazing" (subject)
"The man who called yesterday is my uncle" (modifier)
Sumera Saeed
Jan 16, 2024

Standalone Ability

Can stand alone as a response or idea
Cannot stand alone, depends on the main clause
Huma Saeed
Jan 16, 2024

Additional Information

Can ask questions indirectly, express statements
Provides descriptive or specific details about a noun
Harlon Moss
Jan 16, 2024
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Noun Clause and Adjective Clause Definitions

Noun Clause

It can function as the subject of a sentence.
What she wants is unclear.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 23, 2023

Adjective Clause

An adjective clause is always connected to the main clause.
Students who study hard get good grades.
Harlon Moss
Dec 23, 2023

Noun Clause

A noun clause is a group of words acting as a noun in a sentence.
That he knows the truth is evident.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 23, 2023

Adjective Clause

An adjective clause is a group of words that modifies a noun or pronoun.
The car, which is red, is fast.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 23, 2023

Noun Clause

Noun clauses often start with words like "that," "who," or "what."
I wonder why he left so early.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 23, 2023

Adjective Clause

It usually starts with a relative pronoun like "who" or "which."
The person who called you is my friend.
Huma Saeed
Dec 23, 2023

Noun Clause

A noun clause can serve as the object of a verb.
She didn't know what he would say.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 23, 2023

Adjective Clause

It can specify or clarify a noun in the main clause.
The house, which was built in 1920, is for sale.
Janet White
Dec 23, 2023

Noun Clause

It can also act as the complement of a subject.
The fact is that he was late.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 23, 2023

Adjective Clause

Adjective clauses provide more information about a noun.
The book that you gave me is interesting.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 23, 2023

FAQs

Can a noun clause be a sentence's subject?

Yes, it can function as the subject.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 16, 2024

Does an adjective clause always use a relative pronoun?

Usually, it starts with relative pronouns like "who" or "which."
Aimie Carlson
Jan 16, 2024

What's an example of a noun clause as an object?

"She knows what he did."
Janet White
Jan 16, 2024

Can an adjective clause be removed without changing the sentence's meaning?

It can be removed, but it will reduce the descriptive detail.
Janet White
Jan 16, 2024

How do adjective clauses add to a sentence?

They provide additional information about a noun.
Janet White
Jan 16, 2024

Do adjective clauses change the basic structure of a sentence?

No, they add detail but don't change the basic structure.
Janet White
Jan 16, 2024

Can adjective clauses be essential to the sentence's meaning?

Yes, they can be essential for clarity or detail.
Harlon Moss
Jan 16, 2024

What happens if you remove an adjective clause?

The sentence loses some descriptive detail.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 16, 2024

What is an adjective clause?

A group of words that modifies a noun or pronoun.
Huma Saeed
Jan 16, 2024

Are noun clauses always dependent clauses?

Yes, they cannot stand alone as a complete sentence.
Janet White
Jan 16, 2024

What is a noun clause?

A group of words acting as a noun in a sentence.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 16, 2024

Can a noun clause act as a complement?

Yes, it can complement a subject or object.
Harlon Moss
Jan 16, 2024

Can noun clauses start with "if" or "whether"?

Yes, they can introduce conditions or alternatives.
Janet White
Jan 16, 2024

Do noun clauses always contain a verb?

Yes, they include a subject and a verb.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 16, 2024

Can adjective clauses modify pronouns?

Yes, they can modify both nouns and pronouns.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 16, 2024

What are some common starters for noun clauses?

"That," "who," "what," "how," "why."
Harlon Moss
Jan 16, 2024

What distinguishes adjective clauses in complex sentences?

They add descriptive detail to the noun in the main clause.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 16, 2024

How is a noun clause different from a main clause?

It functions as a noun, whereas a main clause can stand alone.
Sumera Saeed
Jan 16, 2024

Are adjective clauses always close to the noun they modify?

Typically, they directly follow the noun they modify.
Aimie Carlson
Jan 16, 2024

How do you identify a noun clause?

Look for a clause acting as a noun (subject, object, complement).
Janet White
Jan 16, 2024
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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