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  • Sian Hi, Sian here for BBC Learning English. And

  • today we're going to look at ways of giving emphasis.

  • OK, so one way of giving emphasis is by using a cleft sentence. What's that? Well, basically

  • a cleft sentence is a way of cutting a sentence in half so that you can give emphasis to the

  • important or new information. It tells the listener or reader what information they need

  • to pay attention to. Let's have an example:

  • Rob ate my biscuits yesterday.

  • Voice: Ah, so Catherine ate your biscuits yesterday.

  • It was Rob that ate my biscuits.

  • Voice: I hear Rob ate your lunch.

  • No, it was my biscuits that Rob ate yesterday.

  • Voice: I can't believe Rob ate your biscuits this

  • morning.

  • It was yesterday that Rob ate my biscuits.

  • OK, so I said the same sentence in three different ways but each time, the emphasis changed.

  • I did this by using an 'it' cleft. Let's have a look in more detail.

  • So we have it is or it was - so here's our 'it' cleft - followed by the key information we

  • want to emphasise, followed by that and then the rest of the message.

  • So, let's look at the examples we had. Here we want to emphasise Rob. So, "It was Rob

  • that ate my biscuits," not Catherine. Here, because it's a person, we can also use 'who',

  • although 'that' is more common. Now, I want to emphasise that it was biscuits,

  • not lunch. So, "It was my biscuits that Rob ate, not my lunch." Notice this is plural

  • but we still use 'was' not 'were' here. And then finally, I want to emphasise that it

  • was yesterday. So, "It was yesterday that Rob ate my biscuits," not today.

  • Let's look at a few more examples. If we want to talk about the present, we use it is and

  • the verb in the present. So, "It is me that does all the work."

  • We can also put this structure into the question form. So, "Was it you that told him?"

  • And we can make it negative. "It wasn't me that told him." This last sentence, we could

  • also use 'I' instead of 'me', but this is much more formal. So, "It wasn't I who told

  • him." So, that was your introduction to the 'it'

  • cleft. Now, these structures are really useful in writing because when we're writing, we

  • can't stress or give intonation, so it helps to emphasise key information. They're also

  • common when we're speaking. But you have to remember to stress the key information.

  • So, for example, "It was his smile that I first noticed." Or, "It was only a year ago

  • that we met." Now, it's practice that you really need. So,

  • go to our website - - for more information and to practise these structures. Goodbye!

Sian Hi, Sian here for BBC Learning English. And

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A2 rob ate emphasise emphasis information sentence

Grammar: Giving emphasis in English - BBC English Masterclass

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/07/01
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