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For example,

He planned to go to Rome to study Italian.

→ It was to go to Rome to study Italian that he planned.

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  • Compare: 1. "He planned the robbery and 2. "It is the robbery that he planned." Both are possible but the meanings may differ depending on the context. ++ "to go to Rome to study Italian" is a substantive.
    – Greybeard
    Commented May 3, 2020 at 8:49
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    No, but you could say "It was (in order to) to study Italian that he planned to go to Rome", or the pseudo-cleft: "What he planned was to go to Rome to study Italian".
    – BillJ
    Commented May 3, 2020 at 9:23
  • Too Yoda-esque is your suggestion. Commented May 4, 2020 at 15:48

1 Answer 1

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The to-infinitival to go to Rome may not be separated from the verb that licenses it planned and foregrounded in the it-cleft construction. This is possible with objects - noun phrases, but not with to-infinitival complements.

It was her death that I desired.

* It was to kill her that I desired.

to-infinitivals may be foregrounded if they are adjuncts of purpose:

It was to study Italian that he planned to go to Rome.

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    Yeah, the It-cleft is very clumsy that way with infinitives; a Wh-cleft is much more efficatious: What he planned was to go to Rome to study Italian. Commented May 3, 2020 at 15:58
  • I agree your last example is "valid", but I'd much prefer the somewhat easier to parse version It was in order to study Italian that he planned to go to Rome if I had to use this rather awkward construction. Commented May 3, 2020 at 18:06
  • This may be true, but even scholarly-sounding answers on ELU are considered less than optimal if they don't have attributed and linked supporting references. They may otherwise be considered (and may actually be) opinion, or single-school. And I'd like to see usage-panel data on the acceptability of 'It was to study Italian that he planned to go to Rome.' Commented May 4, 2020 at 15:52

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