Ellipsis

Ellipsis

Do you know how to leave out words to make your English sound more natural? Test what you know about ellipsis with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

Look at these examples to see how we use ellipsis:

You can use my car whenever you want to.
[You can use my car whenever you want to use my car.]

Sounds lovely!
[That sounds lovely!]

We started watching the first episode but had to turn it off.
[We started watching the first episode but we had to turn it off.]

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Grammar C1: Ellipsis: 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

In informal conversation, we commonly leave out words. This is called ellipsis. We can use ellipsis when the meaning is obvious without the missing items.

We can use ellipsis in the following situations.

After linkers

We don't have to repeat the subject after the linkers and, but and or

We had a late dinner and [we] went to bed.

Once the kids have left for school, I read a book or [I] do some baking.

If the repeated subject is with the verb be, we can omit both the subject and be.

Clare is working a lot at the moment and [she's] getting up really early.

She's growing up and [she's] starting to want more alone time.

Note that ellipsis doesn't work after other linkers, such as before, after, because, when and while.

We watch TV after we have dinner.
We watch TV after have dinner.

After to

We can often avoid repeating part of a verb phrase after to.

A: Have you tried that new restaurant yet?
B: No, I wanted to [try that new restaurant], but it's on the other side of town.

Some people give up sugar completely, but I didn't want to [give up sugar completely].

After auxiliaries and modals

We can also avoid repeating part of a verb phrase after auxiliaries and modals.

I hadn't noticed it, but my son had [noticed it].

She said she'd get back to me by the end of the week and she has [got back to me by the end of the week].

They were getting ice creams because I said they could [get ice creams].

Omitting subject pronouns

Sometimes we can miss out the pronoun, because it's obvious who or what we're talking about.

[It/That] Sounds familiar!

[It] Wouldn't have occurred to me.

Omitting subjects and auxiliary verbs

Sometimes we can miss out both the pronoun and the auxiliary verb that goes with it. This is most common in informal questions and particularly with the verbs want and have got.

[Do you] Want some coffee?

[Have you] Got a lot of homework?

Omitting auxiliary verbs 

In other informal questions, we can leave out the auxiliary verbs be, have and do.

[Are] You going to Gina's party?

[Have] You got a minute to talk?

[Does] She eat out every day?

[Will] You give me a ring?

Note that this doesn't work with I or it.

Have I given you an idea?
I given you an idea?

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Grammar C1: Ellipsis: 2

Language level

Average: 4.6 (30 votes)
Do you need to improve your English grammar?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are improving their English grammar with our online courses.

Submitted by tugbanurtezvergil on Mon, 04/12/2023 - 18:55

Permalink

Hello sir. Could ellipsis be used in writing?

Hi tugbanurtezvergil,

Yes, sure! Ellipsis is one of the ways that a writer can connect their ideas and make their writing coherent.

However, in formal writing, people don't usually omit subjects and/or auxiliary verbs. They do use other forms of ellipsis, though.

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Gareth on Wed, 11/10/2023 - 13:13

Permalink

Either your tests here are cracked or you've vastly over-rated my proficiency. Was thinking of doing a course or two - but now; not so sure...

Hello Gareth,

If this comment is anything to go by then you appear to have a very high level of English!

The initial level test, which I'm assuming you are referring to, is a tool which gives an approximate answer, like all such initial tests. My advice is for you to use the site's free materials to see which materials best suit you, and use this process to ascertain your correct level.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by hasithachowdary8 on Tue, 13/06/2023 - 07:08

Permalink

I really like this one
it improves the grammar and confident levels.