SOURCE (one of dozens)

I have some confusion in this sentence:

Rather, it is a complex art in that thoughts and idioms which have no obvious analogues from tongue to tongue - or words which have multiple meanings - must quickly be transformed in many a way that the message is clearly and accurately expressing to the listener.

I found some mistakes in this one, then I searched on the Net for the answers. The correct answers are "in that" -> "in which", "many" -> "such", "expressing" -> "expressed".

This is a cleft sentence, so its structure is "It is + N + that +....". And they also use a relative clause in this. I used to be taught that if we use "which", we have to put a preposition ahead it. And if we use "that", we have to put preposition behind. However, my teacher also says that we can only use "that" in the cleft sentence. Plus, they also have "such a way that" which means "so that", so I think "that" here is not used for the cleft sentence. Therefore, I was very confused and wondered why the correct answer was "in which".
Thanks in advance for any helps or advice.

  • It's atrocious phrasing. I suspect the writer might have originally written ...transformed in such a way that..., then realised that he wanted to include many in order to hark back to and emphasise earlier "complex art". What he could more reasonably have written would be, for example, ...transformed in many ways such that..., but perhaps he subconsciously wanted to hang on to the dated / pseudo-erudite expression many a way (but unfortunately that's not easily done in his specific context). Expressing instead of expressed is just a simple slip-up. Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 16:40
  • The entire paragraph was written by a non-English speaker, so mistakes are to be expected and forgiven. The preceding sentence (see link) is: "Simply be bilingual does not qualify anyone to interpreting. Interpreting does not merely a mechanical process of converting one sentence in language A into a same sentence in language B" Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 18:38
  • You're amended version is not a cleft, since "it" is referential to something in the prior discourse. The "it" in a cleft sentence is non-referential.
    – BillJ
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 6:12

1 Answer 1


in that is not necessarily an error. It could be taken as justification of the word complex.

expressing is clearly an error. The passive (and the predicate adjective formed therefrom) requires the past participle.

P.S. You should include the previous sentence, so that we know the antecedent of it in "it is a complex art". This is not a cleft sentence.

P.P.S. A cleft would be:

It is a complex undertaking, to translate speech in real-time.

With a cleft, It (so-called "dummy 'it'") stands as a proxy for the actual nominal subject:

To translate speech in real time is a complex undertaking.

  • Agreed. If you use "in that" you explain why the art is "complex". If you use "in which" you describe the art in more detail. Either is fine ... although in this case I expect "in which" is the intended meaning.
    – Andrew
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 16:33
  • 1
    Your "complex undertaking" is an extraposition construction, not a cleft. Clefts are distinguished by the presence of a relative clause. The non-extraposed counterpart would be "To translate speech in real time is a complex undertaking".
    – BillJ
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 16:56
  • @BillJ: I stand corrected.Are all of these clefts? It was a very bright blouse she was wearing. It was a sad day when they left town. It is a mystery who that masked man was.
    – TimR
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 21:04
  • Your first example is a cleft, but in the last the subordinate clause is not a relative one, but an interrogative clause (embedded question) where the meaning is "The answer to the question 'Who was that masked man' is a mystery?"' In your second example, "when they left town" is a temporal adjunct.
    – BillJ
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 8:13
  • BillJ: Why isn't when they left town in It was a sad day when they left town considered a demoted subject? When they left town was a sad day.
    – TimR
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 9:42

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