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Please consider the following sentence:

John does not know why Meera left town.

I guess it is a noun clause because the clause why Meera left town can act as a noun that is the direct object of the verb does not know. and John is the subject. what John does not know? the answer is: why Meera left town.

But I read somewhere on the internet that said the dependent clause is actually a relative clause and why is a relative adverb here.

Which one is correct? If both, then a clause can be a relative clause and a noun clause at the same time?

  • "Why Meera left the town" is a subordinate interrogative clause (i.e. embedded question), not a free relative clause. The sentence is semantically equivalent to "John does not know the answer to the question: 'why did Meera leave the town?'". – user178049 Nov 25 '18 at 15:46
  • It can be considered a free relative clause. It would be a bound relative clause in @"John does not know the reason why Meera left town", but we are prescribed to use 'that' instead of 'why' for the bound clause (where 'reason' implies 'why'). – amI Nov 25 '18 at 19:12

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