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Hello, everyone,

1. It was he that(who) signed autographs for the fans after the show.

2. It was him that(who) signed autographs for the fans after the show. (acceptable in informal style)

3. It was him signing autographs for the fans after the show.

While I understand the ‘him’ in no.2 above is acceptable in an informal style of a cleft sentence, I’ve heard a few local persons here insist that no.3 is also acceptable, since ‘the subjective relative plus a verb’ could be reduced into ‘-ing’ form.

For the issue - whether this reduced cleft sentence in no.3 as a variant is in fact being accepted by natives recently in informal or conversation style, I would invite your opinions.

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deepcosmoswhether this reduced cleft sentence in no.3 as a variant is in fact being accepted by natives recently in informal or conversation style

I don't think this kind of cleft is necessarily informal (or particularly formal either), and it is certainly not a recent feature of English. The examples below (found online) are all from texts that are more than 100 years old!

It was him looking down dubiously. (1916)
It was him doing the shooting. (1907)
It was him going in. (1917)


To my ear, the first example (It was he who ...) does sound very formal. (AmE)

Nowadays American English uses "He was the one who ..." most often to express that idea.

See

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=it+was+he+who%2Cit+was+him+who%2Che+was+the+one+who&year_start=1800&year_end=2019&corpus=28&smoothing=3#

CJ

Comments  
deepcosmos3. It was him signing autographs for the fans after the show.

This is possible in a certain context.

Artie: I wish I knew who it was signing autographs after the show. I was too far away to see if it was him.

Dot: Oh, it was him signing autographs after the show.

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anonymous
deepcosmos3. It was him signing autographs for the fans after the show.

This is possible in a certain context.

Artie: I wish I knew who it was signing autographs after the show. I was too far away to see if it was him.

Dot: Oh, it was him signing autographs after the show.

Hi, Anon, do you agree this reduced form of sentence in no.3 is a variant of cleft one?

deepcosmos

Hello, everyone,

1. It was he that(who) signed autographs for the fans after the show.

2. It was him that(who) signed autographs for the fans after the show. (acceptable in informal style)

3. It was him signing autographs for the fans after the show.

While I understand the ‘him’ in no.2 above is acceptable in an informal style of a cleft sentence, I’ve heard a few local persons here insist that no.3 is also acceptable, since ‘the subjective relative plus a verb’ could be reduced into ‘-ing’ form.

For the issue - whether this reduced cleft sentence in no.3 as a variant is in fact being accepted by natives recently in informal or conversation style, I would invite your opinions.

It was him signing autographs for the fans after the show.

Sometimes the presupposition has the form of a non-finite clause such as a gerund-participial (ing) clause rather than a relative clause.

Using a non-finite clause in a cleft construction instead of a relative clause is an extension of the main pattern of it-clefts.

It’s perfectly grammatical. I'm not aware of it being considered informal.

Note that in order to distinguish it from a non-finite clause functioning as a subject, the "him" should be stressed.

Him signing autographs for the fans after the show is not permitted. [non-finite clause as subject of sentence]

It was HIM signing autographs for the fans after the show. [non-finite clause as dependent in sentence]

deepcosmosHi, Anon, do you agree this reduced form of sentence in no.3 is a variant of cleft one?

No. "It was him" stands as the main clause, and would suffice alone as a reply to Artie. You can't get "he was signing" out of it because "signing autographs after the show" has "him" as a subject, and "was" has already been used up as the main verb in the copulative main clause.

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 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.
anonymous
deepcosmosHi, Anon, do you agree this reduced form of sentence in no.3 is a variant of cleft one?

No. "It was him" stands as the main clause, and would suffice alone as a reply to Artie. You can't get "he was signing" out of it because "signing autographs after the show" has "him" as a subject, and "was" has already been used up as the main verb in the copulative main clause.

I disagree.

[1] It was he who signed autographs for the fans after the show].

[2] It was him signing autographs for the fans after the show].

There is nothing at all wrong with [2]. Non-finite clauses as modifiers in NP structure are very common in English, though here the non-finite clause is not part of the NP, not a modifier, but a dependent in the structure of the sentence.

Instead of the finite relative clause “who signed autographs …” we simply have the non-finite ing clause “signing autographs …” Everything else remains the same.

Also, note that the main clause is not “it was him”, but the whole sentence.