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In the book that I am learning, It taught me the sentence 'it is __ that __.'

For example, there is

I saw Mary at the station yesterday.

I've heard that it can be changed to something like

it was Mary that I saw at the station yesterday.'

I know that with relative pronouns such as "that, I can drop "that" if it is in the objective case.

If I drop "that" in the sentence, can the meaning be changed?

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    Yes, the relative pronoun can be dropped: "It was Mary I saw at the station", and the meaning is not changed. – StoneyB Apr 28 '16 at 11:19
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    Because Mary's a person, you could also use (or omit, if that's the way you want to see it) It was Mary whom I saw at the station yesterday. Note that in practice most native speakers today would probably use who there anyway. – FumbleFingers Apr 28 '16 at 13:52
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"It was Mary I saw" emphasizes who you saw. It means your listener already knows that you saw someone.

If I asked you "Who did you see at the station yesterday?" you might reply "I saw Mary", or "It was Mary". If I asked you "Did you see Bill at the station yesterday?" you might say "No, it was Mary I saw."

But if I asked you "Did you see anyone at the station yesterday", it would sound a bit strange to me if you replied "It was Mary I saw", because I wasn't asking actually asking who you saw, just whether or not you saw anyone.

"I saw Mary at the station yesterday" doesn't emphasize who you saw, where you saw them, or when.

edit: actually, on reflection, this doesn't answer your question at all. We're really interested in the difference between

It was Mary I saw at the station yesterday

and

It was Mary that I saw at the station yesterday

The word "that" doesn't change the meaning of the sentence, and you can drop it out. It changes the tone a little bit, making it sound a bit more precise or formal, but it doesn't affect the meaning.

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Sentences like

It was Mary I saw at the station yesterday.

are fine in spoken English. In fact, it's probably more common in spoken English to leave out the "that". However, in written or formal English, you would be better off leaving in the "that", as so:

It was Mary that I saw at the station yesterday.

Honestly, though, I wouldn't use either unless you absolutely must. Instead, just say:

I saw Mary at the station yesterday.

  • I want to use it like that you said but The test, I will have, needs knowledge of this grammar ..... damned test in the korea...... – EricHa Apr 28 '16 at 11:08
  • If you're taking a test, I would use "It was Mary that I saw at the station yesterday." – ostrichofevil Apr 28 '16 at 11:09
  • can I ask you the reason? – EricHa Apr 28 '16 at 11:12
  • @EricHa One important point about this kind of cleft sentence is you can drop the pronoun in your example because it's not the subject of the dependent clause. When it's the subject of the dependent clause, you can't drop the pronoun, e.g.: It was Mary who/that wrote this letter. – Damkerng T. Apr 28 '16 at 11:14
  • @DamkerngT. thank you for your feedback but I knew it. my question was for meaning. I wanted to know, if I drop it, will meaning be changed? haha – EricHa Apr 28 '16 at 11:21
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Yes, you can turn around the more direct "I saw Mary," to the more wordy and passive (it's not passive voice, but it's close) version. But the reason you'd want to use this sentence construction is for emphasis. You might say, "No, it was Mary that I saw," as the response to a question. And saying it more quickly, you can safely drop the "that", but in doing so you shift your emphasis.

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