Cleft sentences

A cleft sentence is a complex sentence having a main clause and a dependent clause that has a meaning that could be expressed by a simple sentence. Clefts generally put a particular subject into focus.

it-cleft sentence structure
it + conjugated form of to be + noun (also possible, prepositional, adverbial or adjectival) phrase + subordinate clause

preparatory "it"

We can use preparatory it in cleft sentences. The emphasized words are usually joined to the relative clause by "that". Preparatory it is used when the subject of the clause itself is another clause.

Example:
- It was the water that causes the disease.
- It was religion that the middle eastern people are fighting for.
- It was the facade that makes our house attractive to people.

A noun clause, for example, can be the subject of a clause. However, this doesn’t sound very natural.

compare:

-That she should behave herself well is proper. (doesn't sound natural although grammatically correct)
-It is proper that she should behave herself well. (this sound more natural)

An infinitive can be used as the subject of a clause; however, this is not very common. When the subject of a clause is an infinitive expression, we usually prefer to start the sentence with an it.

Compare:
-To become an astronaut is my ambition.
-It is my ambition to become an astronaut.

It can also be used as a preparatory subject for the for + infinitive structure.

- It is important for the teacher to prepare his lesson.

It takes ... + infinitive

This structure is used to talk about the time necessary for things to happen.

-It takes only five minutes to get there.
-How long does it take to get to Koichi city from here?

using negative sentence with this structure is also possible

- It wasn't him that spreads the false rumors it was the secretary.
- It wasn't the window that Jeff broke.

"Who" is possible instead of "that" when a personal subject is emphasized.

- It is I who initiated the protest.
- It is him who gave instructions to the people.
- It is you who participated the rally.
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