Cleft sentences are complex sentences that have a meaning we can express by a simple sentence. They are used to emphasize one part of a clause.
'Cleft' means 'divided' or 'split.' In every language, there are various ways to put emphasis or focus on different parts of a sentence. One way is by changing the word order.
What Are Cleft Sentences?
Why Do We Need to Use Cleft Sentences?
Cleft sentences are used especially in spoken English to join the part of a meaning that is understood to the part of the meaning that is new to the listener.
Using a cleft sentence is one way to add emphasis to what we want to say.
In a cleft sentence, a single message is divided (cleft) into two clauses. This allows us to focus on the new information.
Cleft Sentences: Types
There are different types of cleft sentences in the English language. Here are some of the most common ones:
- Wh-cleft (also called Pseudo-cleft)
- Reversed wh-cleft (also called Inverted pseudo-cleft)
- Inferential cleft
- If-because cleft
The most common type of cleft sentences is it-cleft sentences. The information that comes in the 'it-clause' is the focus of our sentence. The clause that follows the it-clause contains information that is already understood.
'Jennifer's car got stolen last night, right?' 'No.
Generally, 'that' is a conjunction that connects the clause which follows the it-clause. When 'that' is the object of the verb, we often omit that in spoken English.
'You've met my sister, right?' 'No,
'Who' instead of 'That'
When the focus of our sentence is a plural subject, 'it + be' remains the same, only the verb becomes plural.
The 'it-clause' can also be in a negative strcture.
Generally, wh-cleft (also called pseudo-cleft) sentences begin with 'What,' but they can also begin with other wh-words such as why, where, how, etc.
Typically the wh-clause has old or understood information, while the following clause's information is new and in focus.
'I have no idea what you want.' '
Reversed Wh-cleft Sentences
In a reversed wh-ceft (also called Inverted pseudo-cleft) sentence, the nominal relative clause comes at the end of the sentence.
Some peace and quiet is
Chasing the giraffe is
All-cleft sentences emphasize the object of the verb. It is possible to form questions from all-cleft sentences, but negative sentences are not very common.
This sentence is grammatically correct, but it sounds weird and is not very common.
Inferential Cleft Sentences
Inferential Cleft Sentences tell us about what others may wrongly assume. Inferential Cleft clauses normally start with:
- It's not that ...
- it was that ...
- It is only that ...
- It's just that ...
- It may be that ...
There-cleft Sentences have a similar function to an it-cleft. They indicate the existence of something for emphasis.
If-because Cleft Sentences
If-because Cleft Sentences function similarly to inferential cleft sentences. They emphasize that an assumption that people might make is not valid or true.
A cleft-sentence is usually a simple sentence that has turned into a complex sentence to emphasize a particular constituent. It is usually formed by an empty introductory word such as it or that.
There are types of cleft-sentences as mentioned in the following list.
- Reversed wh-cleft
A warm bath is exactly
- Inferential cleft
- There-cleft sentences
- If-because cleft sentences