"Homework is what I hate to do." "Homework is what makes me sad."

In the first sentence, "what I hate the most" is clearly a noun clause. It functions as a subject complement. And it begins with a subordinating conjunction (what), has a subject (I), and a predicate (hate).

In the second sentence, is "what makes me sad" a noun clause? Is it a clause at all?

It starts with a subordinating conjunction (what) and has a predicate (makes me sad), but what is the subject? Does what function as both a subordinating conjunction and subject?

Please help! lol

  • Could you edit your question for consistency? You refer to 'what I hate most' but that doesn't appear in your examples. Thanks. Oct 11, 2015 at 12:25

1 Answer 1


"What" in your examples is usually considered a relative pronoun (not a subordinating conjunction). And if you classify it that way, it solves your problem. In your example, "what makes me sad" is indeed a clause, with a subject, just as one would expect -- the subject is "what".

Ordinary relative clauses modify some noun, but here, there is no noun to modify, so this type of relative clause is called "headless".

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