Cleft sentence - It was coming down that was the problem.

learning_grenglish

Senior Member
India
Getting up the ladder was easy enough - it was coming down that was the problem.

Does the "it" refer to the "ladder"?

If yes, then it will be, "the ladder was coming down". And I understood this as, "It is falling down automatically". So overall, "Getting up the ladder was very easy enough - the ladder was falling down that was the problem", does not make sense to me.

Please help me on this.
 
  • Divertido

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    It refers to the conceptual idea of the descent, rather than the ladder. It doesn't refer to anything within the sentence. It's saying that it was easy to get up the ladder but difficult to get down.
     

    Lis48

    Senior Member
    English - British
    "Getting up the ladder was easy enough -that it was coming down was the problem", would mean what you suggest Grenglish. Add a "that" and you change the whole sense.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    it was coming down that was the problem.

    This is a cleft sentence, the it is a cleft it.
    The cleft it represents "the problem."

    The uncleft version of this sentence is:
    The problem was coming down.

    And now you can see why you might want to use the cleft sentence structure in this case.
    What does "The problem was coming down," mean? :)
    The usual reason is simply to shift the focus of the sentence, in this case to the "coming down".
     

    JeffJo

    Senior Member
    USA
    USA, English
    The dash separates the statement into two sentences. Repunctuate.

    - Getting up the ladder was easy enough. It was coming down, that was the problem.

    "It" means "the problem."

    It > that > the problem. "The problem" can be directly substituted for "it."

    The second sentence is a roundabout way of saying, 'The problem was, coming down.'

    "Coming down" remains the object of the clause where the pronoun "it" is replaced by the noun to which it refers.

    The substitution can be done while repeating the entire thing.

    - Getting up the ladder was easy enough. The problem was coming down, that was the problem.
     
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