TOEFL Structure Skill 8: Noun Clause Connectors/Subjects

TOEFL Structure Skill 8: Noun Clause Connectors/Subjects

In Skill 7 we saw that noun clause connectors can be used to introduce noun clauses. In Skill 8 we will see that in some cases a noun clause connector is not just a connector; a noun clause connector can also be the subject of the clause at the same time. Study the clauses and connectors in the following sentences.

In the first example, there are two clauses: I know and what happened yesterday. These two clauses are joined by the connector what. It is important to understand that in this sentence the word what serves two functions. It is both the subject of the verb happened and the connector that joins the two clauses.

In the second example, there are two clauses. In the first clause we is the subject of are thinking. In the second clause what is the subject of happened. What also serves as the connector that joins the two clauses. The noun clause what happened yesterday functions as the object of the preposition about.

The following example shows how this sentence pattern could be tested in the Structure section of the TOEFL test.


The company was prepared for ________ happened with the economy.


(A) it

(B) the problem

(C) what

(D) when

The following chart lists common adverb connectors and the sentence patterns used with them.

EXERCISE 8: Each of the following sentences contains more than one clause. Underline the subjects once and the verbs twice. Circle the connectors. Then indicate if the sentences are correct (C) or incorrect (I).

_____ 1. The teacher heard who answered the question.

_____ 2. I do not understand it went wrong.

_____ 3. Of the three movies, I can’t decide which is the best.

_____ 4. She did not remember who in her class.

_____ 5. No one is sure what did it happen in front of the building.

_____ 6. We found out which was her favorite type of candy.

_____ 7. Do you know what caused the plants to die?

_____ 8. I am not sure which it is the most important course in the program.

_____ 9. We thought about who would be the best vice president.

_____ 10. She saw what in the box in the closet.



  1. C
  2. I - extra subject (omit it)
  3. C
  4. I - missing verb (could be who was in her class)
  5. I - unnecessary inversion (should be what happened)
  6. C
  7. C
  8. I - extra subject (omit it)
  9. C
  10. I - missing verb (could be what was in the box)

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