I have trying to figure out what the following means and I still can't get my head around it. They talk about "bound" independent clause but my mind keeps saying: "you mean dependent clause"

Can someone explain to me the concept they are trying to teach?

  • Bold is the flag word
  • Italic is the whole noun clause (including the bold part)

(That) type noun clauses are built like adverb clauses in that the flag word is put in front of a “bound” independent clause, and the flag word plays no grammatical role inside the “bound” independent clause:

that type noun clause = that type flag word + “bound” independent clause

Example: Whether or not it rains will determine our destination

(Wh-) type noun clauses are built like adjective clauses in that wh- words (like relative pronouns in adjective clauses) are inside the “bound” independent clause. Thus, the wh- word must play some grammatical role within the “bound” independent clause. Let us look again at the four example sentences, this time focusing on the grammatical role of the flag word:

Example: Whatever you decide is fine with us.

Source: English grammar and usage (Lester & Beason) p56,57,63. Link.

  • 1
    Briefly, "whatever you decide" is best analysed not as a clause but as a noun phrase in a 'fused' relative construction, where the meaning is "anything you decide".
    – BillJ
    Aug 25, 2021 at 6:50
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    So what do they mean by this: “bound” independent clause?
    – Booksma
    Aug 25, 2021 at 7:07
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    Their idea is that a bound relative clause has an explicit external antecedent, as in "I've eaten the food [that you gave me]" while a free relative does not. Instead, it is not explicit but is contained within the relative clause, as in "I've eaten [what you gave me]". Integrated and 'fused' are much clearer terms. Note that your first example is not a relative construction at all, but one that contains a subordinate interrogative clause.
    – BillJ
    Aug 25, 2021 at 8:19

1 Answer 1


[1] [Whatever you decide] is fine with us.

[2] [Whether or not it rains] will determine our destination.

This explanation may be clearer.

In [1] the subject "whatever you decide" is best analysed not as a clause but as a noun phrase in a 'fused' relative construction. The meaning is like that of the non-fused "anything you decide".

In [2] "whether or not it rains" is a subordinate interrogative clause (embedded question) functioning as subject. It identifies a question the answer to which will determine our destination.

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    For clarity, a "fused" relative clause means one that is not bound to an antecedent, but acts as a complete phrase, as these noun phrases do.
    – gotube
    Aug 25, 2021 at 12:51
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    @gotube No: the term 'fused relative clause' is misleading. "Whatever you decide" is not a clause but a noun phrase, as I made clear in my answer. [2] is quite different: "whether or not it rains" is not a noun phrase in a fused relative construction but a subordinate interrogative clause, again as I made clear in my answer.
    – BillJ
    Aug 25, 2021 at 15:18
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    @BillJ Can you expand on this: "a noun phrase in a 'fused' relative construction" Can you give me a couple of examples so I can understand.
    – Booksma
    Aug 25, 2021 at 19:13
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    How can I identify what is fused and what is not fused
    – Booksma
    Aug 25, 2021 at 19:44

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