cleft sentences


This day has been the first Friday we had attended English class. It’s a bit annoying having class on Friday but I attended anyway. Today we’ve studied a grammar subject: cleft sentences. Then we’ve done some exercises about this subject. Cleft sentences are not included properly in the student’s book.

Cleft sentences are special constructions which give emphasis to certain part of the sentence. These are sentences introduced by It is/It was or by a clause beginning with what.

In speech, stress and intonation also identify the emphasis. These are the recipes:

IT IS/WAS

They are formed with the following structure:

IT + TO BE + FOCUS

Example: Sue borrowed my bike last week.
It was Sue who borrowed my bike last week.
It was last week that Sue borrowed my bike.
It was my bike that Sue borrowed.

Sentences with because are also possible.
It was because I was ill that I left.

WHAT CLAUSES

They are formed with the following structure:

WHAT + FOCUS + TO BE

These are common with verbs such as need, like, want, hate.

Example: I hate rainy weather.
What I hate is rainy weather.

It is also possible to emphasize events, using auxiliary do/did.

Example: Peter left the windows unlocked.
What Peter did was (to) leave the windows unlocked.

After this brief introduction we’ve done the following exercise:

Rewrite the sentences, making them more emphatic.

1. I was most unhappy with the service.
– ….What I was most unhappy with was the service…. (to be unhappy with)

2. I can’t stand the noise.
– ….It’s the noise that I can’t stand…. (the noise)

3. John didn’t pay for the wedding ring, Sarah did.
– ….It was John who didn’t pay for the wedding ring…. (Jonh)
– ….It was Sara who did pay for te wedding ring…. (Sarah)

4. He’s always late. It really annoys me.
– ….What really annoys me is that/(the fact that) he’s always late…. (to annoy)

5. Did you choose the furniture?
– ….Was it you who chose the furniture…. (you)

6. The waiter’a attitude made things worse.
– ….It was the waiter’s attitude that made/did make things worse…. (waiter’s attitude)

7. I love autumn because of the colour of the leaves.
– ….What I love is autumn because of the colour of the leaves…. (autumn)

8. Her terrible accent annoyed me most.
– ….What annoyed me most was her terrible accent…. (to annoy)

9. I bought it because it was a bargain.
– ….It was because it was a bargain that I bought it…. (to be a bargain)

10. In the end Martha went to the police.
– ….What Martha did in the end was (to) go to the police…. (go to the police)

4 comentarios en “cleft sentences

  1. The only part of cleft sentences which are in a grammar section of the studetn’s book are what clauses (p. 12 Lesson 1D Collectors)

    GRAMMAR: what clauses

    We can make statements more emphatic by begining with a what clause.

    * I wanted something to liven up the garden.

    What I wanted was something to liven up the garden.

    * I prefer stuff from the 1970s.

    What I prefer is stuff from the 1970s.

    * I don’t understand why they do it.

    What I don’t understand is why they do it.

    Exercises

    1 Rewrite the sentences begining with what.

    1 I would never sell my wedding ring.
    What I’d never sell is my wedding ring.

    2 I love the way that you sign your name.
    What I love is the way you sign up your name.

    3 I can’t understand why adults enjoy collecting things.
    What I can’t understand is why adults enjoy collecting things.

    4 I think that some people never grow up.
    What I think is that some people never grow up.

    5 I haven’t forgotten the wonderful day we spent together.
    What I hevn’t forgotten is the wonderful day we spent together.

    6 I really want to get a better-paid job.
    What I really want is to get a better-paid job.

    2 Rearrange the words to make what clauses.

    1 What – anything – else – enjoy – I – more – than – …
    What I enjoy more than anything else

    2 What – gets – my – nerves – on – really – …
    What really gets on my nerves

    3 What – about – classes – English – I – like – my …
    What I like about my English classes

    4 What – difficult – find – I – to – understand …
    What I find difficult to understand

    5 What – do – I – love – next – to – would – year …
    What I would love to do next year

    6 What – about -best – childhood – I – my – remember …
    What I remember best about my childhood

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