A noun clause may act as the subject of a sentence, the object of a verb, the predicate noun, or the object of a preposition.
Subject: Whatever you say will meet with my approval.
Object of verb: The students know what they want discussed.
Predicate noun: The important consideration becomes what a man does, not what he says.
Object of preposition: Give refreshments to whoever comes.
These words may operate as noun-clause openers: whoever, whomever, whatever, what, which, whichever, who, that, where, when, how, why, wherever, whom, whosoever.
EXAMPLES (with noun clauses in bold type)
1. How to cope with political freedom has no precedent.
2. What Molly Hatchet had to gain, or lose, Pink Floyd could not know.
3. Who serves his countrywell has no need of ancestors.
4. That nothing becomes used with complete efficiency we may label as a consequence of “the second law of thermodynamics."
5. Why people feel that way puzzles me.
6. Whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.
7. For whoever gets there first, I have a prize.
OPEN WITH A PREDICATE NOUN
A predicate noun = a noun in the predicate which follows a linking verb. In contrast to an object, a predicate noun relates to the subject rather than to the verb, because a linking verb expresses a condition rather than direct action.
The common linking verbs for the predicate noun include all forms of the verb to be (am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been) and seem and become.
1. A stranger I become, once I leave my native land.
2. A bouncing, golden-red ball the fox seemed, as he jumped high over the weeds after the frightened mouse.
3. An impostor he seemed.
4. A large man he was, strong and muscular.
5. Rufus Xavier Sasparilla his code name had been.
6. British all four of his grandparents were.
7. A man he became, once he discarded his childish ways.
8. A pleasant-looking fellow the ambassador seems.
9. The one surviving colonial power we are.
10. An American-Idol finalist, if not the winner of the entire contest, Mrs. Johnsgard seemed when she finally showed Jonny what it means to sing in class.
11. The most alert boy in class Daniel became after finding himself in the sights of Steven’s spit-wad shooter.
OPEN WITH A PREDICATE ADJECTIVE
Predicate adjectives—adjectives that follow linking verbs—refer to the subject. The linking verbs may take predicate adjectives include all forms of the verb to be (am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been); seem, appear, become, grow, prove; and verbs describing sensations like taste, feel, smell, look, sound.
1. “Snug as a bug in a rug," they looked—Miles and his little brother under the cozy bearskin.