A cleft sentence is a complex sentence (one having a main clause and a dependent clause) that has a meaning that could be expressed by a simple sentence. Clefts typically put a particular constituent into focus. This focusing is often accompanied by a special intonation.
In English, a cleft sentence can be constructed as follows:
- it + conjugated form of to be + X + subordinate clause
where it is a cleft pronoun and X is usually a noun phrase (although it can also be a prepositional phrase, and in some cases an adjectival or adverbial phrase). The focus is on X, or else on the subordinate clause or some element of it. For example:
- It's Joey (whom) we're looking for.
- It's money that I love.
- It was from John that she heard the news.
- It was meeting Jim that really started me off on this new line of work.
Famous quotes containing the words cleft and/or sentence:
“It is the sinners dust-tongued bell claps me to churches
When, with his torch and hourglass, like a sulphur priest,
His beast heel cleft in a sandal....”
—Dylan Thomas (19141953)
“A sentence is made up of words, a statement is made in words.... Statements are made, words or sentences are used.”
—J.L. (John Langshaw)