What is a fronted structure?

There are times (usually speaking) when basic grammar is changed so people can emphasise something.

It is often used for negative sentences.

To do this, the most important word or idea is moved to the front.

Examples of fronted structures

Never have I heard such a story!
(= I have never heard such a story)
(stresses the ‘never’)

Now him I invited.
(= I invited him)
(stresses inviting him was important)

Not since his exams has he been under such pressure.
(= He has not been under such pressure since his exams)
(stresses how long it has been)

Cleft Sentences

Cleft sentences are sentences with two parts, with one part being a reason / place / explanation.

Putting the reason / place / explanation first helps emphasise what is important.

– examples

It is his assistant who is coming
(stresses the assistant, not the manager, is coming)

What I need now is a stiff drink.
(stresses needing it now)

The reason why I’m here is that I need to speak to you.
(stresses this reason is important)

What I liked best was the acting.
(stresses this is the most liked part)

No, no. It was a car that my father gave me, not a card.
(stresses the car)

Exercises

1. Change these sentences into fronted structures:
(i) There is a gun on the table (emphasise the gun)
(ii) They have been married for 60 years (emphasise the 60 years)
(iii) It was a bad idea to invite her ex-husband.