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CLEFT SENTENCES Cleft means divided.

We can emphasise certain information in sentences to make it sound more memorable or dramatic or to contrast it with a previous statement by using cleft sentences. They are common in spoken and written English. A) WHAT This structure can be used: 1) to put emphasis on the subject, object or complement of a sentence. Regular exercise keeps you healthy. (SUBJECT) What keeps you healthy is regular exercise. I enjoy taking regular exercise. (OBJECT) What I enjoy is taking regular exercise. Note: The clauses can be reversed only in formal literary style. Regular exercise is what keeps you healthy. Taking regular exercise is what I enjoy. My shoulder causes me pain. What causes me pain is my shoulder. (COMPLEMENT OF TO BE) Note: What + BE cannot emphasise a person. I saw Jim at the exhibition. It was John what I saw at the exhibition. WRONG 2) to put emphasis on the action in a sentence. The Wh- clause must contain a VERB. We use a form of the auxiliary DO. The emphasised part usually contains an infinitive. I decided I needed to keep fit, so I enjoyed a health club. I decide I needed to keep fit, so what I did was to join a health club. They havent sent us a cheque for the money. What they havent done is (to) send us a cheque for the money. Anthony hopes to get work as a farm labourer. What Anthony hopes to do is (to) get work as a rural labourer. STRUCTURE WHAT + SUBJECT + DO [SAME TENSE] + BE [SAME TENSE] + (TO) INFINITIVE Cleft sentences can also be used to focus on a thing, person, place, time or reason, but usually with the addition of an introductory phrase. e.g. the thing that/ the person who/ etc. The wh-clause acts like a relative clause. The only thing that keeps you healthy is regular exercise. The people who live next door are very friendly. The place where I go for a workout has got some great classes. The reason (why) the gym is popular is that its got good equipment. LOOK: I only bought Great Expectations. ALL I bought was Great Expectations. (NOT WHAT) THE ONLY THING I bought was Great Expectations. (NOT WHAT) They just want a better life. ALL they want is a better life. (NOT WHAT) STRUCTURE ALL + SUBJECT + VERB + BE

B) IT This structure can put emphasis on most parts of a sentence EXCEPT for the VERB. It often implies a contrast with a previous statement. Sarah wanted a job as a shrink in the capital. It was Sarah who wanted a job as a shrink. (SUBJECT) It was a job as a shrink that Sarah wanted. (OBJECT) It was in the capital that Sarah wanted a job as a shrink. (PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE) Peter decorated the living room last month. It was Peter who decorated the living room last month. (OBJECT) It was the living room that Peter decorated last month. (SUBJECT) It was last month that/ when Peter decorated the living room. (ADVERBIAL) TYPICAL MISTAKE: I didnt enjoy the exhibition. It was the exhibition what I didnt enjoy. WRONG It was the exhibition THAT I didnt enjoy. RIGHT. STRUCTURE: IT + to be (affirmative/ negative) + emphasised element + THAT + WHO Note: I married in August. It was in August that I married. It was August when I married. It was in August when I married. (ONLY INFORMAL SPOKEN ENGLISH) Note: Time expressions can be emphasised with IT WAS NOT UNTIL/ IT WAS ONLY WHEN When I met you I knew real happiness. It was not until I met you that I knew real happiness. When I read her letter I realised what was happening. It was only when I read her letter that I realised what was happening. Note: We do not use WHY or HOW. It was greed why he did it. WRONG It was because of greed that he did it. CORRECT It is using a calculator how he does it. WRONG It is by using a calculator that he does it. RIGHT NOTE: Even though they are used in Spoken English, overusing them can make your English sound rather pompous.