Noun Clauses

A phrase that functions as a noun, either in the subject or the predicate of a sentence, is called a noun clause.

Noun clauses can be either asserted or not asserted within a proposition.

Compare these two sentences:

1. The president knows that war is imminent.
2. The president believes that war is imminent.

In both cases we are making an assertion about the president. In both cases we use a noun clause, "that war is imminent," to convey what it is that the president knows or believes. And in both cases the noun clause expresses a proposition. The difference is that sentence 1 asserts the proposition, whereas sentence 2 does not.

The English language contains a large class of verbs that we use to describe what people say and think. We can classify these verbs on the basis of whether or not they imply the endorsement of what is said or thought.

The following verbs do not assert what is said or thought: believes, says, argues, is convinced, and suspects.

The following verbs do assert what is said or thought: knows, acknowledges, proves, is aware, and realizes.

In the study of argument, it is crucial to know whether a speaker is endorsing a given proposition as one of his or her own premises or merely reporting that someone else accepts that proposition.


Comprehension Questions
1 Is the proposition "Eucaryotic cells developed as a result of a process of endosymbosis" asserted in the following proposition?

Scientists believe that eukaryotic cells developed as a result of a process of endosymbiosis.

a) Yes, it is asserted.
b) No, it is not asserted.
2 Is the proposition "Several hormones play a role in the regulation of digestion in human beings" asserted in the following proposition?

It is now known that several hormones play a role in the regulation of digestion in human beings.

a) Yes, it is asserted.
b) No, it is not asserted.
3 Is the proposition "Disaccharides may be broken apart by a process called hydrolysis " asserted in the following proposition?

Disaccharides and polysaccharides may be broken apart by a process called hydrolysis.

a) Yes, it is asserted.
b) No, it is not asserted.
4 Is the proposition "No one could identify it" asserted in the following proposition?

Scientists suspected for some time that there was another factor involved in the chemical reaction, but no one could identify it.

a) Yes, it is asserted.
b) No, it is not asserted.
5 Is the proposition "There was another factor involved in the chemical reaction" asserted in the following proposition?

Scientists suspected for some time that there was another factor involved in the chemical reaction, but no one could identify it.

a) Yes, it is asserted.
b) No, it is not asserted.

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