Hello. I'm a graduate student of Linguistics in Japan. Please help me with my research on the meaning of cleft sentences. I would like to ask the teachers (or other native speakers of English) to tell me whether the following English expressions are acceptable or not. I would appreciate it if you tell me your judgment.
a) If anyone can solve this problem, it's Jerry, but I believe Mary can, too.
b) It's Jerry who can solve this problem, but I believe Mary can, too.
I myself predict that sentence (a) is unacceptable or anomalous, while sentence (b) is acceptable or better than (a).
(Not a teacher)
I don't think there is anything wrong with either of them grammatically. They have slight differences in meaning which are hard to describe for me, perhaps someone with more expertise can say something about meaning.
What I would say is that written down in your post, they have far too many commas. I would only put a comma before 'but' in each other them. But I guess that isn't related to the grammar.
Oh, and since you're interested in cleft sentences, if you thought English used them more than other languages might, Scottish Gaelic uses them even more extensively. This frequent usage also seeps into the use of Scots (which just now is a dialect of English, although some people dispute this).
Last edited by Linguist__; 12-Dec-2009 at 00:34.