Exercise 4

Complete the second sentence so that it emphasises the underlined words. Do NOT use contractions.

1 I need one hour to fix the computer.

All .

2 Tim spread the rumour.

the rumour was Tim.

3 We are not questioning your hard work.

It isn't .

4 I used to live in that house over there.

The place is that house over there.

5 We checked all the windows.

check all the windows.

6 We sold everything except the couch.

The only was the couch.

7 We arrived in Madrid in the evening.

It was .

8 You need to sign here.

All .

9 I would never ask Peter out.

The last is Peter.

10 My cousin told us what had happened.

It was .



What are cleft sentences?

Cleft sentences are complex sentences that are used to emphasise one particular part of a sentence. They are particularly useful in writing where we cannot use intonation for emphasis, but they are also frequently used in speech.

Types of cleft sentences


The reason why, the thing that, the person/people who, the place where, the day when…

We can focus on an element of the sentence by using these structures with a relative clause. We use the relative pronouns in the same way we use them in any relative clause.
Cleft sentences – The person who, the thing that, etc.

It + be + phrase + relative clause

Instead of the person who, the thing that, etc. we can also use an introductory it, the verb be in any verb tense that we may need, and the element that we want to focus on.
Cleft sentences – Introductory it
We can use who/which or that after a noun phrase, e.g. Sheila, the book, etc.  But we should use that after adverbial phrases, e.g. under the mattress, on Monday, etc. 

Note that we can also use when after noun phrases, but not after adverbial phrases. Compare:

  • It’s Monday when I have to call. 
  • It’s on Monday that I have to call.


The thing/s that = What/All

We can also use what or all (more emphasis) instead of the thing/s that to focus on an element of the sentence.
Cleft sentences – What clause

What + subject + do/does/did/ + is/was + (to) infinitive

We use this structure when we want to focus on the verb or verb phrase. In these structures, we can use an infinitive with or without to.
Cleft sentences – What he does is

What happens is (that) … / What happened was (that)

We use this structure when we want to focus on a whole sentence, and not only on an element in the sentence.
Cleft sentences – What happens is