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Emphasis

- grammatical essay-

There are several ways in which we can express emphasis in English, mainly
by changing word order to change focus, adding words for emphasis or other
means which will be approached within the topic.

1) When using a passive construction, the emphasis is put on what comes


first:

e. g. The ice has blocked all docks. /All docks have been blocked by ice.

2) When inversion is involved, that means changing the natural word


order in the sentence so as to emphasize the prepositional phrase
before the verb, which presupposes putting the verb before the
subject:

e. g. The snow came down! /Down came the snow!

3) Fronting refers to changing the order of clauses in a sentence so as to


highlight a sentence which would normally not come first.

e. g. Where the car dissapeared last night, I have no clue.

4) Time phrases are often put in first place because of the importance of
time reference:

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e. g. She decided to leave the house at ten o’clock. /At ten o’clock she
decided to leave the house.

5) We can also invert a special type of “may” sentence which is


introduced by “although”:

e. g. Although this may seem ridiculous, it is true. / Ridiculous as this may


seem, it is true.

6) We may also use cleft or pseudo cleft sentences, that is, sentences
introduced by “it is” or by a clause beginning with “what”. This means
we can emphaisze various parts of the sentence and additionaly, use
intonation and stress in speech in order to identify the emphasis:

e. g. John stole my wallet last night! / It was John who stole my wallet last
night. / It was my wallet that John stole last night. / It was last night that John
stole my wallet.

It was because I lied that I was punished. (sentence with “because”)

It can’t have been the same film that you saw last night. ( sentence with
modal auxiliary)

I like rainy weather. / What I like is rainy weather. (most commonly with
verbs such as “need”, “like”, “hate”)

I need a car. / What I need is a car.

I left the door unlocked. / What I did was to leave the door unlocked.
(emphasis of event using auxiliary)

All you need is a vacation. (“the only thing”)

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7) Adding “own”:

e. g. That was my own contribution to the project.

8) Adding “very” and “indeed”:

e. g. At the very same time, he left without saying goodbye.

It is very hard indeed.

9) Emphasing negatives using “at all”, “in the least”, “really”:

e. g. It was not hard at all.

I was not affected in the least.

I was not really interested in the subject.

There was none left whatsoever.

10)Emphasising uniqueness by using “the”:

e. g. You aren’t the Jeff Bridges, are you?

11) Ending words in –ever:

e. g. Whoever taught you to behave like that?

12) Using auxiliary “do”:

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e. g. I do hope you will come to your senses.

13) A variety of adjectives and adverbs ay be utilized for emphasis:

e. g. It was sheer bliss!

I was absolutely convinced he was wrong.

It is by no means certain that he will do what I asked.

It was absolutely/ quite/ simply/ just wonderful! ( used only with non-
gradeable adjectives)

14) Echoing phrases with “so”:

e. g. That was the lady he was expecting to see. So she was!

15) Using time phrases such as “day after day”, “time and time again”,
“over and over again”, day in, day out”:

e. g. He keeps repeating this over and over again!

16) Repeating the main verb:

e. g. I waited and waited, and he never came.

17) When repeating a phrase with a possessive, it is possible to omit the


first mention of the noun:

e. g. His book was an inspiring book. / His was an inspiring book.

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Bibliography:

Vince, Michael: Advanced Language Practice with Key. MacMillan, Oxford,


2003.