It’s in the supermarket that Julie buys her vegetables.

hboo

Senior Member
Chinese
Hello,

1. "It’s in the supermarket that Julie buys her vegetables."

Is the sentence grammatically correct? I'm not sure if it's correct to use "that" or other relatives. And I'm thinking about:

2. "It’s in the supermarket where Julie buys her vegetables."
or
3. "It’s the supermarket where Julie buys her vegetables."

Which sentence of sentence#2 and sentence#3 is correct?

Thanks.
 
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  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    If the first sentence means "Julie buys her vegetables in the supermarket", then your first sentence is fine.

    If you mean to say that Julie buys her vegetables in the supermarket and that something else is in the supermarket, "It's in the supermarket where Julie buys her vegetables", then the second sentence is fine.

    If you mean to say that this particular supermarket and no other supermarket is where she buys her vegetables, then your third sentence makes sense. All three sentences are possible, but they mean different things.
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    hboo, It would be interesting to know what you actually mean. I agree with owlman that they could all essentially be possible.

    I might even say: It's in the supermarket that Julie buys her vegetables in.

    I might also say: Julies buys her vegetables in that supermarket.
     

    hboo

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thank you very much, owlman.

    The reason I asked the question is that I'm not sure what relative I should use in a cleft sentence. In my original post, I asked about when the prominence is about location. Now I have some questions about time, for example:

    "Was it yesterday that he met Lee?"

    Is "that" correct in above sentence? Or is it correct to use "when", i.e.:

    "Was it yesterday when he met Lee?"

    Thanks.
     

    hboo

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I just saw the other post from perpend. Thanks. And sorry that I didn't make myself clear in my original post. Now I think I did on the above post.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Both "that" and "when" make sense, Hboo. I prefer "when" in the sentence because it reinforces the notion of time. "That" sounds normal, but I don't think it's quite as good a choice as "when" in that particular question.

    Reconsidering your first post, I agree that the cleft versions are possible but easily confused with other ideas. They might be easier to understand in speech than they are in writing because people can use intonation, which often helps others understand the intended meaning.
     

    hboo

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thank you very much. I'm still confused about this sentence:

    "It was at work when I met my manager." - is "when" correct? Or should I use "that"? Thanks again.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Thank you very much. I'm still confused about this sentence:

    "It was at work when I met my manager." - is "when" correct? Or should I use "that"? Thanks again.
    You can use both. Owlman and perpend like "when." I like "that." Just personal preference. (Since "yesterday" is specified as the time, I don't feel I need to reinforce or match the time element with "when," although it's correct.)
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    I think all 3 of these are used:
    It was at work when I met my manager.
    It was at work that I met my manager.
    It was at work where I met my manager.

    I don't want to be schoolmarmish, but again, I'd invert: I met my manager at work.

    But this is where context really becomes important, because there are subtle differences, depending upon what you intend to say/convey.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    That's an interesting question, Hboo. Using "when" sounds possible but somewhat unusual to me. Speakers can shift focus in their sentences, but I don't often hear them do so. It would sound more ordinary to say "It was at eight o'clock when/that I met my manager." I'd recommend "that" or "where" for your last sentence: It was at work that/where I met my manager.

    Perpend's "schoolmarmish" recommendation sounds like a good thing to do.

    Copyright's "that" neatly avoids some of the confusion that other words like "where" or "when" may cause. In speech, that confusion is usually not a problem. In writing, it can be.
     
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    Woofer

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    That's an interesting question, Hboo. Using "when" sounds possible but somewhat unusual to me. Speakers can shift focus in their sentences, but I don't often hear them do so.
    It sounds possible but for me has a completely different meaning.

    Where did you meet your manager? It was at work that I met my manager.
    How did you break your ankle? It was at work when I met my manager. I was so surprised that I fell down.

    And that's not just because of the time/place difference. I don't think the "cleft" meaning comes through with any preposition other than that.

    When did the bell ring? It was at three o'clock that the bell rang. :tick:
    When did the window break? It was at three o'clock when the bell rang. :tick: (some might insist on a comma here)
    When did the bell ring? It was at three o'clock when the bell rang.:cross:

    The third sounds wrong to me. I *think* other posters might be suggesting it sounds reasonable to them, but I'm not sure.
     
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