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Any of various constructions in which some element of a sentence is removed from its normal position and certain extra words are added to highlight the cleft. The purpose of a cleft is to place the clefted element into FOCUS. For example, starting with the sentence Mike wants a new car, we can form an IT-CLEFT to focus either on Mike (It's Mike who wants a new car) or on a new car (It's a new car Mike wants). Or we can form a WH-CLEFT (or PSEUDO-CLEFT) to focus on a new car: What Mike wants is a new car or A new car is what Mike wants.
A CLAUSE which is capable of making a complete sentence by itself; a clause which is not a SUBORDINATE CLAUSE. A sentence always contains at least one main clause, and a SIMPLE SENTENCE consists only of a single main clause. In the simple sentence Susie finished her drink, the whole sentence is the main clause. In the COMPOUND SENTENCE Susie cooked dinner, and Natalie did the washing-up, there are two main clauses connected by and. See also MATRIX CLAUSE.
The construction in which a phrase is moved out of its ordinary position to the beginning of the sentence in order to serve as a TOPIC. Consider the following sentence: I can't recommend this book. It is possible to move the noun phrase this book to the front of the sentence in order to produce This book I can't recommend, in which this book is topicalized: that is, the new sentence is a comment about this book.
About the Author
Professor Trask has taught in the School of Cognitive and Computing Science at the University of Sussex since 1988. He is the author of many books on language and linguistics including THE PENGUIN GUIDE TO PUNCTUATION and A DICTIONARY OF GRAMMATICAL TERMS IN LINGUISTICS (Routledge) and he is currently working on THE PENGUIN GUIDE TO COMMON ERRORS IN ENGLISH.