We can use different grammatical structures to add emphasis, either to a whole sentence or to highlight one particular part of it.
We use cleft sentences to emphasise different parts of the sentence, they usually begin with it or by a clause beginning with what.
‘It’ Cleft sentences.
A simple sentence might be:
You spoke to the manager on the weekend.
We can add emphasis by moving the information we want to emphasise to the front of the sentence and adding it + be.
It was you who spoke to the manager on the weekend.
Emphasis: you (not another person)
It was on the weekend that you spoke to the manager.
Emphasis: on the weekend (not another time)
It was the manager that you spoke to on the weekend.
Emphasis: the manager (not another person)
”What” cleft sentences
What, where, why, who, how, clauses + be emphasise the part of the sentence that is outside the clause. This clause can be at the beginning or end of the sentence.
What I hate is when people use their phones while driving.
How they will adapt is not yet known.
The food at the Chinese restaurant was what I liked the most.
Inversion with negative adverbials
We can invert, change the order of, sentences to add emphasis.
To invert a sentence, we put the adverbial (e.g. never, rarely, not only, etc.) at the start and move the position of the subject and verb.
Never have I seen such an amazing performance
(I have never seen such an amazing performance)
Little, no sooner and not
You can use words like little, no sooner, never and not when speaking about negative things.
Little did I realise that he was a polive officer
(I didn’t realise that he was a polive officer)
No sooner had we met than he left.
Not a single positive comment did I hear from Karen.