Cleft Sentence

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.

Read more about Cleft Sentence:  Types, Structural Issues, Information Structure

Famous quotes containing the words cleft and/or sentence:

    It is the sinner’s 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 (1914–1953)

    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)