Cleft Sentences


We use a cleft sentence for emphasis.

A Cleft sentence has two clauses: Main clause and Subordinate clause.

Main ClauseSubordinate Clause
It was DanielWho became first in the competition.

Cleft Emphasis


1- Preparatory "it".

Our sentence: My brother gave the book to Ryan yesterday.

It was my brother that gave the book to Ryan yesterday.
(here the emphasized word is "my brother")

It was the book that my brother gave to Ryan yesterday.
(here the emphasized word is "the book")

It was Ryan that my brother gave the book to yesterday.
(here the emphasized word is "Ryan")

It was yesterday that my brother gave the book to Ryan.
(here the emphasized word is "yesterday")

Note: You can also use "Who" instead of "That" when the subject is a person.

It was my brother who gave the book to Ryan yesterday.


2. Subject + Who/what ...

Mr. Anderson saw a squirrel in the garden.
Mr. Anderson was the person who saw a squirrel in the garden.

A squirrel was what Mr. Anderson saw in the garden.


3. The place where...; the reason why...; the day when...

To read during his voyage, Tony borrowed a book from the library yesterday.

The library was the place where Tony borrowed a book.

To read during his voyage was the reason why Tony borrowed a book.

The day when Tony borrowed a book from the library to read during his voyage was yesterday.


4. Emphasizing "What".

My mother scolded me fiercely.
What my mother did was (to) scold me fiercely.

Dan works for a software company in LA.
What Dan does is (to) work for a software company in LA.

Note that "To" is optional.

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