Grammar Guide: Noun Clauses with Question Words

Stewart Falls is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Utah. This 200-foot, two-tiered waterfall sits at the end of an hour-long hike from Sundance Resort. It is nestled among lush, green trails in the spring and summer months with cool, refreshing water coming from the snow-capped mountains. This hike is a favorite among Utah residents and visitors because it is easy to reach and has a rewarding destination.

Noun Clauses
Just as adverb and adjective clauses contain a subject and a verb, noun clauses are also a group of words that contain a subject and a verb. The entire clause acts as a noun, which could take the place of a subject, direct object, predicate adjective, object of the preposition, or indirect object. Noun clauses can begin in a variety of ways, but we will look at question words, or wh- words, today: who, whom, whose, what, when, where, why, which, and how.

  • Whoever wants to come hiking should meet at the school at 1 p.m.
  • Do you know what a waterfall is?
  • Spencer told the students where to drive to find the trail.
  • Sometimes we didn't know which way to go.
  • The students didn't realize how beautiful the waterfall was.
Notice the word order in these clauses (subject + verb). Although these clauses begin with a question word, DO NOT use question word order! Questions have an auxiliary verb before the subject, but these clauses are not asking questions. These clauses show the subject first, then the verb second. 

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