Ways to Add Emphasis in English
Hi English learners! Welcome to a new lesson. We will discuss different ways to add emphasis to your writings or speech.
Here is the list:
- Using inversion
- Using passive voice
- Use of the present continuous tense
- Use of auxiliary verbs
- Cleft sentences with “it” and “what”
Using inversion to add emphasis
We can add emphasis to our sentences by placing a negative adverb at the beginning of the sentence and inverting the word order. You can look at the lesson about inversion with negative adverbs and adverb phrases here. We can also use “so” and “such” to emphasise the quality of something.
- Only then did I dare to look into his eyes.
- Rarely did they talk about that night.
- On no account should you buy a house in that part of the city.
- So high were the prices that we hesitated to buy anything.
- Such a nice and polite gentleman was he; she wished they were friends.
Using the passive voice to add emphasis
We can also emphasise something by using passive voice. When we use the passive construction, we put the object at the beginning of the sentence, which brings more attention to it.
- The approval of the budget is expected by the end of the month.
- It was too late to do anything because the document was released to the public.
- Most of the world’s coffee is grown in Brazil.
- The key was hung on the nail all the time.
- The missing book was given to a student who moved abroad later that year.
Use of the present continuous with “always”
As you probably know, “always” is a frequency adverb we normally use with the simple present tense. However, we can use it with the present simple tense to emphasise something annoying.
- I hate my sister. She is always using my make-up.
- That woman is never silent. She is always talking.
- People are constantly complaining about the quality of the goods in that shop.
Use of auxiliary verbs to add emphasis
We don’t normally use the auxiliary verbs “do”, “does” and “did” in affirmative sentences unless we want to emphasise something. We should stress the auxiliary verb in these sentences.
- Why did you say that I never listen to you? I do listen to you.
- You may not believe it, but he really does try really hard to understand what’s going on.
- Do be quiet! I’m trying to study here.
Cleft sentences with “it” and “what”
A cleft sentence is a structure in which some words are moved to a position they’re not normally used in to add emphasis.
- It was the babysitter who killed the postman.
- Remember that it was me who found came up with the idea, not you.
- What the world needs is peace.
- I’m not saying that you’re a bad worker. What I’m saying is that you are not suitable for this position.
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