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Fronted Structures

1. What is a fronted structure?

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

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

2. Examples of fronted structures

Original sentenceFronted structure and emphasis
I invited himNow him I invited
I have never heard such a storyNever have I heard such a story!
He has not been under such pressure since his examsNot since his exams has he been under such pressure.

3. 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.

4. Examples of cleft sentences

Cleft SentenceEmphasis
It is his assistant who is coming.The assistant, not the manager, is coming
What I need now is a stiff drink.Need it now/first priority
The reason why I’m here is that I need to speak to you.This reason is important
What I liked best was the acting.What I liked, not what you liked
No, no. It was a car that my father gave me, not a card.
(stresses the car)
A car, c-a-r, not card.

5. Exercises

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.

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