View table of contents for this book View table of contents for LinguaLinksLibrary Go to LinguaLinks home page
 

What is a cleft sentence?

 

Definition
 

A cleft sentence is a complex sentence in which a simple sentence is expressed using a main clause and a subordinate clause. In English the prototypical cleft sentence has the following form:

 
  • it + be + X + subordinate clause
  •  

    X can be a constituent of one of many varieties.

    Discussion
     

    X and the subordinate clause together carry the same meaning as their corresponding simple sentence. However, the primary focus of the cleft construction is on an element, often marked by intonation, that introduces new information. This element appears either as X or in the subordinate clause.

    Example (English)
     
  • No, it is his callousness that I shall ignore.
  •  

    Its corresponding simple sentence is No, I shall ignore his callousness. The primary focus of the cleft sentence may be marked by intonation, as in following sentences:

     
    • No, it is his callousness that I shall ignore.
    • No, it is his callousness that I shall ignore.
     
    Source:

    Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, and Svartvik 1985 1384

    Generic
      A cleft sentence is a kind of
     
    Kind
      Here is a kind of cleft sentence:
     
    Sources
     

    Crystal 1980 63

     

    Levinson 1983 182–183

     

    Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, and Svartvik 1985 1383–1384

     

    Sornicola 1988 343–344

     

    Bromser 1984 327

     

    Jespersen 1949 147–148

     

    Delahunty 1984 74–88


    Context for this page:

    Go to SIL home page This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 5.0 published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 2003. [Ordering information.]

    Page content last modified: 5 January 2004

    © 2004 SIL International