The Subjunctive in Noun Clauses

A noun clause is a subordinate clause that functions as a noun, that is, it can serve as either the subject or the object of a verb. Noun clauses are introduced in French by the conjunction que.

The following examples have dependent noun clauses in the indicative. They show events perceived as part of reality because they are the objects of verbs such as savoirpenserentendre (dire), and voir.

Jesais que Jérôme habite ce quartier. | I know that Jérôme lives in this neighbourhood.


Je pense que la réunion est en haut. | I think that the meeting is upstairs.


On a entendu dire que l’entreprise a des problèmes. | We have heard that the firm has problems.


Je vois que les résultats sont bons. | I see that the results are good.

Note that in the above examples, the subordinate clauses beginning with que are the direct objects of the verbs. They all answer the question “Qu’est-ce que?

  • Qu’est-ce que tu sais ? → Je sais que Jérôme habite ce quartier.
  • Qu’est-ce que tu penses ? → Je pense que la réunion est en haut.
  • Qu’est-ce que vous avez entendu dire ? → On a entendu dire que l’entreprise a des problèmes.
  • Qu’est-ce que tu vois ?  → Je vois que les résultats sont bons.

Next week I will go over the uses of the subjunctive, so stay tuned for that! Have a great week, everyone!

A bientôt !

Courtney

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2 thoughts on “The Subjunctive in Noun Clauses

  1. Courtney, you might be interested in something called the relativization hierarchy. It describes a universal tendency amongst languages, which has to do with the facts that (a) there are several different kinds of relative clauses, depending on the syntactic role of the noun that gets “relativized” (i.e. subject, object, etc.), and (b) if a language doesn’t have all of those kinds, it’s predictable which ones it won’t have–it’s not a random thing. Here’s a Wikipedia section (where it’s called the “accessibility hierarchy”) on the topic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relative_clause#Accessibility_hierarchy

    Thanks for writing this blog–I always enjoy your posts! I’d love to know what the sources of your material are–I imagine that it varies from topic to topic…

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