1- All I did was sit in coffee shops and read or surf the internet.

2- All I did was sitting in coffee shops and reading or surfing the internet.

3- All I did was to sit in coffee shops and read or surf the internet.

The first one is correct but what about 2 and 3 are they wrong?
1 2
Yes, they are wrong.
why ing form is incorrect here?
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In the pseudo cleft with do, you need the base form (sit) or the full infinitive (to sit) when the first clause has no "doing". You need the -ing form (sitting) when the first clause has "doing". The second one is wrong, but the following is fine with -ing.

All I was doing was sitting in coffee shops ...

CJ
CalifJimIn the pseudo cleft with do, you need the base form (sit) or the full infinitive (to sit) when the first clause has no "doing". You need the -ing form (sitting) when the first clause has "doing". The second one is wrong, but the following is fine with -ing.
All I was doing was sitting in coffee shops ...
CJ - why do you see this as a pseudo-cleft construction.

BillJ
ffarshadd3- All I did was to sit in coffee shops and read or surf the internet.
I consider the above sentence correct even though it is much more common to omit the infinitive marker (to).

CB
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BillJwhy do you see this as a pseudo-cleft construction.
Why not?

1. What I [was doing / did] was ...

2. All I [was doing / did] was ... / All's I did was ...

3. The only thing I [was doing / did] was ...

All the same basic pattern.

The fact that you ask the question makes me feel that the terminology police are after me again! Emotion: surprise

Do you have an alternate recommendation?

Maybe "pseudo-cleft" only for 1 and "modified pseudo-cleft" for 2 and 3? That's my usual approach, but I took a short cut in this thread.

CJ
CalifJim
BillJwhy do you see this as a pseudo-cleft construction.
Why not?
1. What I [was doing / did] was ...
2. All I [was doing / did] was ... / All's I did was ...
3. The only thing I [was doing / did] was ...
All the same basic pattern.
The fact that you ask the question makes me feel that the terminology police are after me again! Emotion: surprise
Do you have an alternate recommendation?
Maybe "pseudo-cleft" only for 1 and "modified pseudo-cleft" for 2 and 3? That's my usual approach, but I took a short cut in this thread
They are related in terms of having similar meanings, but structurally they’re quite different. The “What” example (a genuine pseudo-cleft) is a fused relative construction belonging in the ‘information packaging’ domain, whereas the “All” and “thing” examples consist of a general noun as head, (or fused determiner-head), and an integrated relative clause as modifier. Unlike pseudo-clefts, this kind of structure allows for expansion in the same way that is found with NPs in other kinds of clause.

A ‘pseudo-cleft’ is a distinct construction by virtue of the fact that the backgrounded material is placed in a special type of relative clause called a fused relative construction. So the non-cleft “I sat in coffee shops…” can yield the pseudo-cleft “What I did was sit in coffee shops …”, where the underlined backgrounded material is a fused relative construction (cf “what I did” with the non-fused relative “That which I did”).

You could also think of it in terms of replacing the “it” component in an it-cleft with something else; the result is no longer an it- cleft construction. Similarly, replace the fused “what” in a pseudo-cleft with something else and it’s no longer a pseudo-cleft construction. So clearly “it” and “What” are key identifiers in cleft constructions.

BillJ
BillJUnlike pseudo-clefts, this kind of structure allows for expansion in the same way that is found with NPs in other kinds of clause.
Sorry. I don't understand what sort of expansion you're referring to here. Could you give an example of what expansion(s) the pseudo-cleft does not allow that the "All I did" and "The only thing I did" construction do allow? I'm having trouble imagining cases that illustrate this idea.

BillJthe non-cleft “I sat in coffee shops…” can yield the pseudo-cleft “What I did was sit in coffee shops …”
Yes. I understand this.

BillJcf “what I did” with the non-fused relative “That which I did”
So the mere absence of a fused relative disqualifies a construction from being called a pseudo-cleft, if I understand you here. The fact that the semantics is virtually identical is irrelevant, right? I'm concluding this from your comment, "related in terms of having similar meanings, but structurally ... quite different."

BillJYou could also think of it in terms of replacing the “it” component in an it-cleft with something else; the result is no longer an it- cleft construction. Similarly, replace the fused “what” in a pseudo-cleft with something else and it’s no longer a pseudo-cleft construction. So clearly “it” and “What” are key identifiers in cleft constructions.
Yes. I believe I do understand your use of the terms 'cleft' and 'pseudo-cleft'. I don't find anything surprising here. (An aside: It seems to me that there may be cases of who as a fused relative as well, though less often seen in modern English.)
___________________

In view of how you define these concepts, I have a follow-up question. Is there a name for all constructions, taken collectively, which exhibit the same agreement properties as seen in the 'pseudo-cleft with do', namely that

1) the verb in the main clause takes -ing if the relative construction (whether fused or not) has doing, and

2) the verb in the main clause takes the base form or "to" + base form when the relative construction has some other form of do, but not doing?

I illustrate these below.

[What / All / The only thing] I'm doing is looking for ...

[What / All / The only thing] I do is (to) look for ...

I ask because it would be convenient to have a single name to use in answering the questions we often get from students about how to handle the agreement in such structures. But it also seems to me that someone in linguistics has noticed the similarities and developed some way of talking about them, particularly from the point of view of their similar grammatical properties.

CJ
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