General English Level 5 V 3
UNIT 04 Crime and punishment TOPIC 02 How could it happen?
LANGUAGE FOCUS 04 Cleft sentences
Mathew, Keith and Sophie say:
it's the e-business company and the banks that should pay.
... it will be their customers who have to pay for her crime.
Sophie: … but it's the woman who will really suffer.


When we want to focus on (put special emphasis on) one part of the sentence (usually a noun group), we use a cleft sentence structure.

Mathew could say, "The e-business company and the banks should pay." But he wants to emphasise who should pay - i.e. the e-business company and the banks (not somebody else). He says, " ... it's the e-business company and the banks that should pay."

In a cleft sentence we generally use the impersonal it + the verb to be + a noun group + a relative clause.

It was Janis Steadman who stole the money.
is usually the bank's customers that have to pay.
will be the criminal who suffers most.

1. We can use cleft sentence structures to focus on

actions (verbs)


It was meeting him that really started her life of crime.
time, place or other circumstances


It was in London that they first met.

2. You can also use "what" and "all" in cleft sentences


What we need is more policemen.
All she wanted was an interesting life.


1 Read the examples.
2 Listen to the examples.

Practise saying each example. Use the Pause button.

It was John who stole the money from my purse.
It should be the criminal who is punished.
It must have been the thief who broke the window.
It is greed that makes them do it.
It's her husband that I feel sorry for.


Now go to 05 WRITING Cleft sentences.


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