Cleft sentence

From Teflpedia

Cleft sentences are used for emphasis, and transform a short sentence into as longer, more emphatic form. There are two types of cleft sentences: subject and object cleft sentences.


Cleft sentences follow a few common structures:

  • IT + BE + NOUN + RELATIVE PRONOUN + VERB as in "It was you who stole my ring"
  • WHAT + NOUN + VERB(S) + BE as in "What you need is a haircut", or "What she should do is get a life"
  • THE + NOUN + DEFINING RELATIVE CLAUSE + BE as in "The pub (that/which) my friends like is over there", or "The bloke who/that spilt my drink is over there"

Relative clauses in cleft sentences[edit]

If a cleft sentence contains a relative clause (see above), the grammar of subject and object relative clauses also applies within the cleft sentence. In cleft sentences with object relative clauses, a relative pronoun is necessary; however, in cleft sentences wih a subject relative clause, a relative pronoun is optional. Compare the following examples:

SENTENCE Kevin gets on with Chav
SUBJECT CLEFT SENTENCE The person (who/that) Kevin gets on with is Chav
OBJECT CLEFT SENTENCE The person who/that gets on with Chav is Kevin

See also[edit]