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Dear Grammar Exchange members, 

I'm currently wondering if the as-clauses in manner use can be placed in a focus position of a it-cleft sentence. Take (1) as an example.

(1) 

Question: How did Mary played the piano?

The answer: It was as Bob (did) that she played the piano.

I think that the most appropriate answer is like "She played the piano just as Bob did" (although I am not a native English speaker). However, I was wondering if you could tell me whether  the answer in (1) is possible or not.

I am really sorry to bother you all, but  I look forward to hearing from you.

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Hello, Toowoomba, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

@Toowoomba posted:

I'm currently wondering if the as-clauses in manner use can be placed in a focus position of a it-cleft sentence. Take (1) as an example.

(1) 

Question: How did Mary played the piano?

The answer: It was as Bob (did) that she played the piano.

 

I'd like to see what David can tell us, but the sentence above is very awkward — if not ungrammatical. I don't think it works because both parts of the sentence share the same verb.

I think cleft sentences could work with an as-clause in focus position if different verbs were used, for example:

- It was as she had been taught that she played the piano.

With as if and as though, such emphatic adverbials of manner seem to work better:

- It was as if/though she was saying goodbye that the played the piano.

@Toowoomba posted:

I'm currently wondering if the as-clauses in manner use can be placed in a focus position of a it-cleft sentence. Take (1) as an example.

(1) 

Question: How did Mary played the piano?

The answer: It was as Bob (did) that she played the piano.

Hello, Toowoomba, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

Like Gustavo, I find your attempt to focus an as-clause of manner in an it-cleft sentence to be exceptionally awkward and unnatural, if not ungrammatical.

Perhaps the sentence would work, albeit clumsily, if you used ellipsis in the main clause (after the antecedent) rather than in the focused as-clause.

(i) It was as Bob played the piano that Mary did.

However, I have great difficulty hearing the as-clause in (i) as being expressive of manner. I hear it as expressing simultaneity, as a while-clause does:

(ii) It was while Bob played the piano that Mary did.

Moreover, I cannot think of any as-clause of manner that would work if focused in an it-cleft. For example, it seems to turn the Golden Rule into garbage:

(iii) You should do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
(iv)
?? It is as you would have them do unto you that you should do unto others.

Perhaps (iv) would not be perceived as garbage by all native speakers, so I will remain agnostic as to whether what you want to do is grammatically possible.

Last edited by David, Moderator

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