Ellipsis and Substitution. E3C 姚杏秀 Stacey E3C 王瀅瀅 Lin-lin E3C 曾郁芬 Erica. Key considerations. Comprehension of ellipsis and substitution is the biggest problem for learners. They may be confused when words are left out or when short
Comprehension of ellipsis and
substitution is the biggest problem for
learners. They may be confused when
words are left out or when short
grammatical words like one, do are used.
1.A:[Are]You ok now?
2.A: When are you coming back?
B:[We are coming back on]
1. You ought to clean your teeth and
brush your hair.
You ought to clean your teeth and
[You ought to] brush your hair.
2. The police are interviewing a man seen
just after the robbery.
The police are interviewing a man [who
was] seen just after the robbery.
1.A: Have you ever thought of
trying to get a job?
[I have never thought of trying to get a job.]
1. She invited me to her house but I wouldn’t go there.
(there → her house)
2. We’ve had a few unexpected problems. That is why I’ve called another meeting.
(that → We’ve had a few unexpected problems.)
Speaking and writing
The greater the intimacy between participants in conversation correspondence, and the greater the mutual familiarity with the topic, the greater the scope for ellipsis. The following interaction assumes a large amount of common knowledge.
b Re-write the conversation so that there is less ellipsis and the whole conversation would be more easily understood by an outside.
A: Drink? →
B: Large. →
A: Pint? →
B: Half. →
C: My round. →
A: About time. →
B: Pint in the case. →
Would you like another drink?
Yes please. I’d like a lager.
Would you like a pint?
No thank you. I’d like half a pint.
I think it’s my turn to buy a round.
It’s about time you bought a round.
Since you frequently avoid buying a round I’ll change my order from half a pint of lager to a pint of lager.
The following is from a crime novel. An unsavory character named Gillespie is speaking to his late wife’s solicitor( Mr Duggan). Gillespie claims that his late wife (Mathilda) not only robbed him but boasted of doing so in her diaries. Look at how the author has used situational ellipsis in the dialogue.
b In this context, how does this situational ellipsis contribute to the characterisation of the two participation in the conversation?
‘Read her diaries,’ he growled.
stole them off me.
Couldn’t resist boasting to herself, that was Mathilda’s trouble.
She couldn’t resist boasting to herself, that was Mathilda’s trouble.
Put every damn thing of those miserable pages, then over and over again to remind herself how clever she was.
Sheput every damn thing of those miserable pages, then over and over again to remind herself how clever she was.
She wouldn’t have left
Wouldn’t have left
out a triumph like this. Read her diaries.
The young man kept his face deliberately impassive. ‘I will. As a matter of interest, do you know where she kept them? It’ll save me
the trouble of looking for
They’re on the top self of the library.
Top self of the library.
‘Disguised as the works of
‘They’re disguised as the works
Willy Shakespeare！He took a card from his wallet. ‘You’re a solicitor, Mr Duggan, so I’m trusting you to be honest. That’s where I’m staying.
Expect to hear from you on this in a couple of days or so.
I ‘ll expect to hear from you on this in a couple of days or so.
Grateful if you’d treat it as a matter of urgency.’
In the following extracts, examples of ellipsis and
substitution have been singled out. In each case
explain and specify what information is left our
This extract is from an article written by a film critic:
Here’s a useful rule of thumb: never trust those (1) - usually
substitution/ellipsis those people
comedians, entertainers and the like – who say, “I love
And here’s another (2): never trust film critics who say. “I love
substitution/ellipsis another rule of thumb
Each film, you fervently hope, will be the one (3)that makes up
substitution the one the film
for all the dross you saw last week.
Usually it isn’t. (4)
ellipsis isn’t the one (i.e. the film) that makes up for all the
dross you saw last week.
She yearned for his love and approbation. She had listened
dutifully, (5) asked the right questions,
ellipsis she had
(6) had instinctively know that this was an interest he assumed
that she would share.
guilt to her natural reserve and timidly, (7) that the river had
ellipsis she realized now
become the more terrifying because she could acknowledge
Its terrors and her relationship with her father (8) more distant
ellipsis had become
because it (9) was founded on a lie.
substitution ither relationship with her father
Every member of our Food Services Team shares
one common aim – to ensure that your visit here
today is an enjoyable one.
a. an enjoyable one
b. substitution of noun phrase
c. an enjoyable visit (i.e. this is indefinite and singular)
There are three ways of dealing with the problem. 1.One is
to find a bland menu that children eat happily 2.and grown-
ups grudgingly. 3.The second is to cook whatever you feel
like eating 4,and let the children fend for themselves.
1.ellipsis one way of dealing with this problem
2. ellipsis that grown-ups eat grudgingly
3. ellipsis The second way of dealing with this problem
4. ellipsis The second way of dealing with this problem
is … to let …