Difference Between Noun Clause and Adjective Clause

Main Difference – Noun Clause vs Adjective Clause

A clause is a group of words that contains a subject and a predicate. There are two main types of clauses in grammar. They are independent clauses and dependent clauses. Independent clauses are the clauses that express a complete thought. Dependent clauses (subordinate clauses) are the clauses that cannot express a complete idea. Dependent clauses can be mainly divided into three categories based on their functions: noun clauses, adjective clauses, and adverbial clauses. As their names suggest, these clauses act as nouns, adjectives, and adverbs, respectively. In this article, we are focusing on the difference between noun clause and adjective clause. The main difference between noun clause and the adjective clause is that noun clause functions as a noun whereas adjective clause functions as an adjective.

What is Noun Clause

A noun clause can be defined as a dependent clause that acts as a noun. A noun clause cannot stand alone as a sentence because it cannot express a complete thought. Noun phrases generally begin with words such as how, that, what, whatever, when, where, whether, which, whichever, who, whoever, whom, whomever, and why. Like a noun, a noun clause can function as the subject, object or the complement.

Noun Clause as the subject:

What my friend did was unbelievable.

What Carol said shocked all of us.

Noun Clause as the object:

DO you know how much this will cost?

I didn’t know that he could sing so well.

Noun Clause as the object of a preposition:

We are not responsible for what they did.

You can give this to whoever you like.

Noun Clause as the subject complement:

Whichever option you choose is fine with us.

Your problem is that you don’t have faith in God.

Main Difference - Noun Clause vs Adjective Clause

You can pick whichever you like.

What is Adjective Clause

An adjective clause can be defined as a dependent clause that acts as an adjective. Since adjective clauses play the role of adjectives, they can modify or describe a noun or pronoun. An adjective noun commences with a relative pronoun (that, which, who, whose, whom) or relative adverb (when, where, or why). Since they begin with relative pronouns, adjective clauses are also known as relative clauses.

It is important to note that adjective clauses that add non-essential information to the noun are set off from the main clause by commas whereas adjective clauses that add essential information are not. You can observe this rule better by looking at the examples below.

This apple tree, which was planted my great grandmother, is 100 years old.

I kicked the cat that scratched you.

Ice-cream, which many of us adore, has no nutritional value.

My grandfather can remember the time when there were no televisions.

The old man who lives there went on holiday.

Difference Between Noun Clause and Adjective Clause

This necklace, which was given to me by my husband, is an heirloom.

Difference Between Noun Clause and Adjective Clause


Noun clause is a dependent clause that functions as a noun.

Adjective clause is a dependent clause that functions as an adjective.


Noun clause functions as a noun. It can act as the subject, object, and the subject complement.

Adjective clause functions as an adjective and modifies the noun.


Noun clauses are not written with commas.

Adjective clauses are sometimes set off by commas.Difference Between Noun Clause and Adjective Clause - infographic

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