Posted by: crisdiaz24 | December 5, 2008






            One way of focusing on a particular part of a sentence is to use a cleft structure. This involves using the verb “be”, either with “it” as an impersonal subject or with a clause such as a relative clause or a “to”-infinitive clause as the subject or complement. Sentences containing this structure are called cleft sentences.



1.  “It” as the subject


            If you want to emphasize one noun group and make the whole clause say something about it, you can make the noun group the complement of an impersonal “it” structure, and follow it with a relative clause containing the rest of your message. The complement can refer to the subject or object of the relative clause.

For example, instead of saying George found the right answer,  you may want to stress the fact that George did it by saying It was George who found the right answer.

It was Ted who broke the news to me.

It is usually the other vehicle that suffers most.

Similarly, instead of saying Henry makes clocks, you can say It´s clocks that Henry makes.

It´s money that they want.

It was me Mr Smith  wanted.


2.  “What” to focus on an action.


            If you want to focus on an action performed by someone, you can use a cleft sentence consisting of “what” followed by the subject, the verb “do”, the verb “be”, and an infinitive clause with or without “to”.

For example, instead of saying I wrote to George immediately, you can say What I did was to write to George immediately.

What Stephen did was to interview a lot of old people.

What you have to do is to choose five companies to invest in.

What it does is draw out all the vitamins from the body.

What he did was get Christopher followed by a private detective.


3.  Focusing on the topic.


            Clause with “what” as their subject can be used to focus on the thing you are talking about. They can be put after the verb “be” as well as in front of it. For example, you can say Its originality was what appealed to me, as well as What appealed to me was its originality.

What impressed me most was their sincerity.

These six factors are what constitutes intelligence.



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