An ELT Glossary : Cleft sentences

  • Definition : A sentence which has been divided into two parts, each containing a verb, to emphasise a specific piece of information 
  • Example: To emphasise "David" in David came to see me, the sentence is divided into two clauses :  It was David who came to see me.
There are two types of cleft sentence : 
a) as above using It + BE / relative clause  : It was David who came to see me

b) using a wh- clause as subject  or  object - eg I need a rest becomes A rest is what I need   or  What I need is a rest.  This second type is sometimes called a pseudo-cleft sentence.

Related Reading

McCarthy, M. Discourse Analysis for Language Teachers, Cambridge

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