Transparent Inglês

Advanced English: Emphasis Posted by on Mar 30, 2012 in Avançado

Hi, there! How’s it going?

This post is for advanced students of English and it talks about emphasis. Today we are going to focus on changing word order to emphasize a sentence.

Fronting and Inversion

Let’s start by talking about fronting and inversion. Inversion refers to changing the normal word worder in the sentence so that a prepositional phrase is emphasized before the verb. Here are some examples:

Suddenly down came the rain!
Up into the air went the balloon.

Fronting involves changing the order of clauses in a sentence and putting first for emphasis a clause that would usually not be first.

I don’t know where the money is coming from.
Where the money is coming from, I don’t know.

Time phrases can vary in position, and are often put first because the time reference is important.

At six o’clock Monica decided to call the police.

There are also the may clauses, introduced by although which can be inverted. It is a highly formal expression.

Although it may seem/be difficult, it is not impossible.
Difficult as/though it may seem/be, it is not impossible.

Read more about inversion by clicking here.

Cleft and pseudo cleft sentences

These are sentences introduced by it is/it was or by a clause beginning what. Different parts of the sentence can be emphasized in this way. In speech, stress and intonation also identify the emphasis. Sentences with because and modal auxiliaries are also possible. Some examples:

Sue borrowed my bike last night.
It was Sue who borrowed my bike.
It was last night that Sue borrowed my bike.
It was my bike that Sue borrowed.

It was because I felt sick that I left.

You can’t have read the same book.
It can’t have been the same book that you read.

What clauses

These are common with verbs such as need, want, like, hate.

I hate rainy weather. – What I hate is rainy weather.
I need a vacation. – What I need is a vacation.

It’s also possible to emphasize events, using auxiliary verbs do/did.

Peter left the windows unlocked. – What Peter did was (to) leave the windows unlocked.
They are destroying the environment. – What they are doing is destroying the environment.

This is it for today. See you next time!

Adapted from Advanced Language Practice (Michael Vince).

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About the Author: Adir

English / Spanish teacher and translator for over 20 years. I have been blogging since 2007 and I am also a professional singer in my spare time.