Please answer me only if you are an expert about grammar.

I read this answer from my another question on another website:

"The Japanese Weather Service will let the public know when the cherry trees have blossomed. = After the cherry trees blossom, the Weather Service will reveal that fact (=the fact that they have blossomed) to the public.”

In this case, the When clause is an adverb right?

I think in that sentence, if the “when clause” is a noun, the meaning should be the weather service will make public the time when the trees blossomed. If a When clause is a noun, I believe it means the time when.

For example, “could you let me know when we can meet?” Here, the when clause is a noun and it means let me know the time when we can meet. Am I correct?

  • Syntactically, your example is ambiguous. Will the Weather Service tell us that the trees have blossomed (at some unspecified future time, not necessarily immediately after that event occurs)? Or will they tell us something completely different at the time when the trees blossom?. Is that what you're asking about? – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 24 '19 at 15:45
  • No: you've got the syntax wrong. A noun phrase has a noun as head. A clause has a verb as head. "When the cherry trees have blossomed" is a temporal adjunct. I take "when" as a preposition and thus its a preposition phrase. For those who take "when" as a subordinator, it's a subordinate clause. Whichever analysis is preferred, it's definitely not a noun phrase. – BillJ Sep 24 '19 at 17:24
  • @FumbleFingers Yes. But if the When clause is a noun, I believe it means the service will tell us “what time” the tress have blossomed”, not just that. Does it make sense? – Mango Gummy Sep 24 '19 at 22:46
  • Verb forms such as to tell and to let s/o know can be used without an explicitly-stated indirect object (the information being imparted - as opposed to the direct object, being the recipient of that information). But without additional context, we can't unambiguously parse an utterance such as Tell me when you arrive. It could be adverbial (Tell me [some contextually relevant information] then, at that time), or a noun phrase representing the information itself (Tell me your arrival time) - by implication, Tell me that now. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 25 '19 at 14:23

When X the Japanese Weather Service will let the public know.

The Japanese Weather Service when X will let the public know.

The Japanese Weather Service will when X let the public know

The Japanese Weather Service will let the public know when X.

Being able to move around in a sentence like this is a property of adverbs, like the single words only, just, or even. Because of the length of X in your example and the length of the words outside of X, the preferred place for "when X" is not going to be in the middle of the sentence, but it's possible and valid.

Nouns answer the question "what?", not "how?" or "when?".

  • That is one interpretation. But as FumbleFingers says, it can also be interpreted (in the given position) as a noun phrase, the object of "tell". – Colin Fine Sep 24 '19 at 16:27
  • Interestingly, in "They arrived yesterday", the noun "yesterday" answers the question "When did they arrive?". – BillJ Sep 24 '19 at 17:56
  • @ColinFine I wouldn't go along with you there. In FF's "Will the Weather Service tell us that the trees have blossomed?", "us" is object (a complement) of "tell" and the complement clause is the second complement, but not an object. – BillJ Sep 24 '19 at 18:03
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    @BillJ: YMMV. I can't see why a "that" clause can't be a NP. It can function as subject, after all. – Colin Fine Sep 25 '19 at 7:40
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    @BillJ: I have never said it was a noun, but a noun phrase, which is different. However, it is clear that we are working in different grammatical theories, so I suspect further discussion is pointless. – Colin Fine Sep 25 '19 at 16:57

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