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Meaning of cleft sentence

cleft' sen'tence

Pronunciation: [key]
— Gram. Gram.
  1. a sentence in which a simpler sentence is paraphrased by being divided into two parts, each with its own verb, in order to emphasize certain information, esp. a sentence beginning with expletive it and a form of be followed by the information being emphasized, as It was a mushroom that Alice ate instead of Alice ate a mushroom.
  2. Also calleda two-part sentence in which a subject or subject complement expresses information being emphasized and an indefinite relative clause corresponds to the rest of a simpler sentence that has been paraphrased, as A mushroom was what Alice ate or What Alice ate was a mushroom.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.