16 Jul


Ellipsis is another cohesive device. It happens when, after a more specific mention, words are omitted when the phrase needs to be repeated.
A simple conversational example:
  • (A) Where are you going?
  • (B) To town.
The full form of B’s reply would be: “I am going to town”.
A simple written example: The younger child was very outgoing, the older much more reserved.
The omitted words from the second clause are “child” and “was”.


A word is not omitted, as in ellipsis, but is substituted for another, more general word. For example, “Which ice-cream would you like?” – “I would like the pink one” where “one” is used instead of repeating “ice-cream.” This works in a similar way to pronouns, which replace the noun. For example, ‘Ice-cream’ is a noun, and its pronoun could be ‘It’. ‘I dropped the ice-cream because it was dirty’. – Replacing the noun for a pronoun. “I dropped the green ice-cream. It was the only one I had’. – the second sentence contains the pronoun (It), and the substitution (one). One should not mix up the two because they both serve different purposes: one to link back and one to replace.



We can sometimes leave out words in sentences to avoid repetition, or when the meaning of the sentence is clear without these words. We call this ‘ellipsis’. We can leave out words in the following cases:

To avoid repeating the same noun:

  • There is a large number of Andrew Marshalls in the world and quite a few [of the Andrew Marshalls] are writers and journalists.
  • I painted one wall and Jim painted the other [wall].
  • I haven’t got a pen. Use Paula’s [pen].
  • I failed the first exam but passed the second [exam].

When the main verb is exactly the same and is followed by an object, complement or adverbial, we can also leave it out:

  • Ben does the shopping, Paula [does] the cooking, and Andy [does] the cleaning.
  • James cleaned the kitchen, Beth [cleaned] the living room and Olive [cleaned] the bathroom.
  • One sister is a doctor and the other [sister] [is] a graphic designer.
  • Andy travelled by bus, Olivia [travelledby plane, and Gavin [travelled] on horseback.

To avoid repeating the main verb after an auxiliary:

  • liked the film but Jackie didn’t [like it].
  • I thought you were working but I can see that you are not [working]
  • She never bought a flat but now she wishes she had [bought a flat].

Note that a verb/noun etc. is usually left out the second time it is used. But sometimes it can be left out the first time, especially when these two modal verbs are used together, separated by and:

  • The students can [do extra study at home] and must do extra study at home.
  • I think you could [tell him about it] and should tell him about it.

This can also happen with certain verbs used with prepositions:

  • He believed in [his right to enter the country] and argued for his right to enter the country.

To avoid repeating a whole verb in the infinitive, we can just use
  • I didn’t arrive early but I wanted to [arrive early]
  • “Are you coming to the party?”
  • “We hope to [come].”



uir.unisa.ac.za/xmlui/…/1790/dissertation.pdf?…  Traducir esta página


Introduce tus datos o haz clic en un icono para iniciar sesión:

Logo de WordPress.com

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de WordPress.com. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Google photo

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Google. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Imagen de Twitter

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Twitter. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Foto de Facebook

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Facebook. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Conectando a %s

A %d blogueros les gusta esto: