Foundations of Grammar

Dr. Eaton

These will relate to our discussion of the Active and Passive voice and your readings in Tense and Aspect.

Together, a misuse or overuse of passive voice, fast-switching tense and aspect, and generic Cleft sentence constructs causes reader confusion and should be closely edited. Lose the reader and you lose your work.  


  In line with our discussion of the past, present and future tenses we often use a cleft sentence to respond to an interrogative sentences. The primary cleft sentences constructs are generally:


 Before we discuss these forms of the CLEFT sentences, Let’s discuss the definition and purpose of the CLEFT construct. The Cleft Construct is unique in that it addresses trans-social structure more than structural design.

  CLEFT can be defined by the emphasis on stresses when hearing a sentence. The use of the CLEFT indicates that a rise in emphasis will occur somewhere within the sentence structure and meaning. Much like it musical counterpart, the CLEFT sentence  signals a musical or tonal expectation of rising or falling inflection.

  Other Characteristics:



The THERE Cleft.



EX: There it is, on the floor



EX: There are students in the classroom. (present)

        There were students in the classroom (past)

        There will be students in the classroom (Future)


The “There” cleft plays a structural role as a noun-replacement but, trans-socially, it acts as an implied determiner indicating time (there will, there was, there is)  If you say it, I know that you are talking about time or place/ tense and aspect.


THE DO SENTENCE CLEFT: This cleft uses the different forms of the verb (to do) in order to gather more information. The Do Cleft can’t work as a declarative. Think about it. Can you make a declarative sentence that starts out with Do or even does that is not either an interrogative or an imperative (command) sentence? I don’t believe you can?

 EX: Do your homework

       Do you wash your car every week?

       Does our class time go fast?

       Don’t you agree?

       Don’t! (implied subject- (you)


Do you see? The Do Cleft will serve especially in these two forms. Can you find the stresses within the sentence?



  This Cleft is probably the most commonly used in speaking declarative sentences and the most criticized in writing declarative sentences (why is that? – discuss) Much like the “THERE” cleft, this one allows us to rename the subject to “it” Trans-socially, “it” opens up the range of possible interpretation.



EX: It was the best of times; it was the worst of times

        It is a terrific story. (declarative)

        It is there, we are here. (declarative (center of universe law)

        It is a bright, bright, sunshiny day. (allows for adjective use)


(Introduces REFERENTIAL: A referential (N©) means that the use of the “IT” cleft will generally “reference” the subject of the sentence at some point or at least REFERENCE the main idea. (Examine above sentences. Do all of these sentences have referentials?)


The WHO Cleft


EX: “James did it.”

         Who?” (notice that when we use the “WHO” Cleft there is a natural tonal inflection in our speech)


  “Mary wrecked her motorcycle in Phoenix during Christmas break, he said.”

Who wrecked her motorcycle during Christmas break?” I asked


“Was she riding with anyone?”


“With whom was she riding?

“I don’t know.”

“So Mary, who was in phoenix over Christmas break, wrecked her motorcycle with someone else on it?”


  Notice that in the “WHO” cleft, the vocal inflection naturally falls on “Who” or “Whom” and is most likely the stress on the sentence. Are you more concerned for Mary, her motorcycle, or where it happened?

  The THAT cleft


Review the THERE cleft to understand the THAT cleft. The THAT cleft also acts as a REFERENT to the primary subject.


EX: To whom does this book belong?

        That belongs to him.


The IT Cleft and the THAT cleft can be interchanged.


EX: To whom does this book belong?

        It belongs to him.


Closing: These introduce the five clefts. Answer, as a class, Noting cleft and Pronoun usage, why this passage may appear to be difficult in interpreting as a reader.


 “Myrtle and Marie were just finishing their second cup of coffee at Sandy’s Country Kitchen when they told them they would have to leave. They complained that this wasn’t fair, which they ignored. This made them furious so she asked to speak to the manager, which proved to be a mistake. She came at once and told them that this wasn’t a lounge; the restaurant was closing because they needed to go home. They protested that this was going to ruin their reputation friendliness because they intent to tell all their friends about it. She said they could print it in the paper for all she cared and then she turned on her heel and left them flabbergasted. Having no other recourse, they paid the bill and stomped out, vowing never to do it again.”

Read the first 10 pages of your Longmore work and complete your assignment 2: I will see you on Tuesday, Nov. 2)