A cleft sentence is made by separating a single clause into two clauses, one main and one subordinate. Cleft sentences are useful to change emphasis; for example, compare ‘You stole the money' and ‘It was you who stole the money, not him'.

‘It was me who broke the vase' is a cleft sentence made up of two clauses. A single clause version would be ‘I broke the vase'.

In the classroom
Sentence transformations are a form of controlled practice of cleft sentences, for example:
Pat broke the window.
Was: ...It was Pat who broke the window.

Research and insight

We have hundreds of case studies, research papers, publications and resource books written by researchers and experts in ELT from around the world. 

See our publications, research and insight

Sign up to our newsletters for teachers and teacher educators

We will process your data to send you our newsletter and updates based on your consent. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the "unsubscribe" link at the bottom of every email. Read our privacy policy for more information.