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ellipsis
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explanation of ellipsis


• It is often possible to abbreviate the second of two co-ordinating clauses by omitting the subject and the auxiliary verb (if there is one).

For example the sentence:

By nine o’clock, he had finished his work and he had gone home.


Can be abbreviated to

By nine o’clock, he had finished his work and gone home.

This can only be done if both clauses have the same subject. The second clause in the sentence

He had finished the work and his assistant had gone home

can not be abbreviated because it does not have the same subject as the first clause.


• Commas are often used to separate co-ordinate clauses, especially if they are long, but commas are not used if the second clause is ellipted.




exercise on ellipsis

Use ellipsis to abbreviate the second clause in the following sentences. In one of the sentences ellipsis is not possible.


(1) Pete looked for a long time, but he never found the money.


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(2) Nancy broke her leg and she injured her elbow.

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(3) At that time, Tom was working in a restaurant at night, and he was going to school during the day.

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(4) Recently Fred has been listening to a lot of music, but he has not been reading much.

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(5) Before her accident, Martha had been swimming on Saturday mornings, or she had been running in the park.

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(6) Harry’s room has been cleaned and it has been painted too.

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(7) Jill went to jail but her husband went into the hospital.

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(8) Norah had cooked supper, and she had put on her new dress by the time her boyfriend arrived.

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(9) Sometimes Fred sent his boss an email and sometimes he phoned him.

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(10) Jack’s customers were waiting at his door and they were getting impatient.

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