cleft sentence

Square100

Senior Member
Vietnamese
Could you explain the meaning of "cleft" in "cleft sentence"?
I consulted it in many dictionaries but not sure.
Is the sentence below a cleft sentence? I think it is because there is the structure "it was...that...."


It was estimated that the leisure revolution would take place by the turn of the last century with hours devoted to work falling to 25-30 per week.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    No, this is not one of those that counts as an it-cleft. ('Cleft' is the noun of 'cleave', an archaic word for "cut". The normal sentence is cut into two parts and rearranged.) It-cleft sentences give focus to an element by adding 'it' and a relative clause:

    The leisure revolution would take place by the turn of the century.
    It was the leisure revolution that would take place by the turn of the century.

    Here, the that-clause is a relative clause attached to the noun phrase 'the leisure revolution'. Contrast this with your original sentence, where the that-clause is a content clause (a complete clause not attached to anything). It can be the subject of the sentence, but it is more common to use 'it' as a dummy subject and move the content clause to the right:

    That the leisure revolution would take place by the turn of the century was widely believed*.
    It was widely believed that the leisure revolution would take place by the turn of the century.

    So you see the two that-clauses have different functions, and so do the two it's.

    * I have changed the verb because 'That . . . was estimated' doesn't work.
     

    Square100

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese
    Thanks a lot.
    I'd like to ask another question.
    Is "cleft" an adjective or a noun in "cleft sentence"?
     
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