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Hello, everyone,

It has often been the very creations intended to save time that have been most responsible for increasing the workload. Recent research indicates that farm wives in the 1920s, who were without electricity, spent significantly less time on housework than did suburban women, with all their modern machinery, in the latter half of the century. ...”

* source;

https://books.google.co.kr/boo...0save%22&f=false

I understand the first sentence above is a cleft sentence and followings are allowed in ‘It be’ position; It is(was), occasionally, It might be, It must have been, It may have been, It could have been, etc. However, this is the first time to me that I’ve seen ‘has often been’. Does this also have no problem in that position grammatically?

Would hope to hear your valuable opinions.

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Hi, Deepcosmos,

@deepcosmos posted:

Hello, everyone,

It has often been the very creations intended to save time that have been most responsible for increasing the workload. Recent research indicates that farm wives in the 1920s, who were without electricity, spent significantly less time on housework than did suburban women, with all their modern machinery, in the latter half of the century. ...”

* source;

https://books.google.co.kr/boo...0save%22&f=false

I understand the first sentence above is a cleft sentence and followings are allowed in ‘It be’ position; It is(was), occasionally, It might be, It must have been, It may have been, It could have been, etc. However, this is the first time to me that I’ve seen ‘has often been’. Does this also have no problem in that position grammatically?

First of all, please remember that "followings" is not a word in the English language — it is a present participle and therefore invariable. You can use the neutral "the following" (i.e. what follows) or, if you want to stress the plurality, use a plural noun or pronoun, e.g. the following forms.

That said, I haven't been able to find any specific material to support my answer but I hope I can make my point. In the note to item 18.27 of A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, page 1386, Quirk et al say:

[b] Though the verb form in the first clause of a cleft sentence is usually simple present or past, forms with modals are perfectly possible:
It may be his father that you're thinking of.
It would have been at that time that he went to live in Wisconsin.
Decision between present and past, however, is somewhat complicated. Where the verb of the second clause is present, that of the first will be present:
It is novels that Miss Williams enjoys reading.
[...]
Where the second verb is past, the first can always be past:
It was novels that Miss Williams enjoyed as a pastime.
[...]
But the first verb may be in the present where the persons concerned are still living or the objects concerned still familiar in the participants's experience:
It is Miss Williams that enjoyed reading as a pastime.
It is these very novels that Miss Williams enjoyed reading as a pastime.

There is therefore a tendency for the verb in the first clause to replicate the tense of the verb in the second clause unless "the participants" (in Quirk's words) contribute something that justifies the change of tense (use of modals if the speaker wants to express some modality, combination of present and past if there is some sense of continuity).

In the sentence you brought to our attention:

- It has often been the very creations intended to save time that have been most responsible for increasing the workload.

it is clearly "often" that makes the present perfect necessary. The speaker wants to express the high frequency of the fact stated in the second clause. Using the present  simple there would sound wrong because it would be inconsistent with the present perfect in the second clause:

* It is often the very creations intended to save time that have been most responsible for increasing the workload.

However, if "often" disappears, we can perfectly combine present simple with present perfect:

- It is the very creations intended to save time that have been most responsible for increasing the workload.

With present simple in the second clause, we can use "often" with present simple in the first one:

- It is often the very creations intended to save time that are most responsible for increasing the workload.

I think "be" functions differently depending on whether "often" is used or not: if "often" is used, "be" is close to "happen" in meaning and therefore needs to replicate the tense of the verb in the second clause; if "often" is not used, "be" is less meaningful and merely used for emphasis.

Last edited by Gustavo, Co-Moderator

Hi, Deepcosmos,

First of all, please remember that "followings" is not a word in the English language — it is a present participle and therefore invariable. You can use the neutral "the following" (i.e. what follows) or, if you want to stress the plurality, use a plural noun or pronoun, e.g. the following forms.

That said, I haven't been able to find any specific material to support my answer but I hope I can make my point. In the note to item 18.27 of A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, page 1386, Quirk et al say:

[b] Though the verb form in the first clause of a cleft sentence is usually simple present or past, forms with modals are perfectly possible:
It may be his father that you're thinking of.
It would have been at that time that he went to live in Wisconsin.
Decision between present and past, however, is somewhat complicated. Where the verb of the second clause is present, that of the first will be present:
It is novels that Miss Williams enjoys reading.
[...]
Where the second verb is past, the first can always be past:
It was novels that Miss Williams enjoyed as a pastime.
[...]
But the first verb may be in the present where the persons concerned are still living or the objects concerned still familiar in the participants's experience:
It is Miss Williams that enjoyed reading as a pastime.
It is these very novels that Miss Williams enjoyed reading as a pastime.

There is therefore a tendency for the verb in the first clause to replicate the tense of the verb in the second clause unless "the participants" (in Quirk's words) contribute something that justifies the change of tense (use of modals if the speaker wants to express some modality, combination of present and past if there is some sense of continuity).

In the sentence you brought to our attention:

- It has often been the very creations intended to save time that have been most responsible for increasing the workload.

it is clearly "often" that makes the present perfect necessary. The speaker wants to express the high frequency of the fact stated in the second clause. Using the present  simple there would sound wrong because it would be inconsistent with the present perfect in the second clause:

* It is often the very creations intended to save time that have been most responsible for increasing the workload.

However, if "often" disappears, we can perfectly combine present simple with present perfect:

- It is the very creations intended to save time that have been most responsible for increasing the workload.

With present simple in the second clause, we can use "often" with present simple in the first one:

- It is often the very creations intended to save time that are most responsible for increasing the workload.

I think "be" functions differently depending on whether "often" is used or not: if "often" is used, "be" is close to "happen" in meaning and therefore needs to replicate the tense of the verb in the second clause; if "often" is not used, "be" is less meaningful and merely used for emphasis.

Hi, Gustavo, your explanation is always giving me a chance to learn much. And will keep the usage of "following" in mind.

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