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English 362: More from Chapter 4: Ellipsis

In addition to the sentence types we are learning about, Chapter 4 introduces the term ellipsis.

Ellipsis: refers to the omission of a word or words that can be supplied.

Although ellipsis rarely occurs in simple declarative sentences, they are much more likely to appear in more complex sentences.

Example 1–

  • The ninja latched his grappling hook onto the window sill, hauled himself up, and entered the Hokage’s private office.

There are three verbs in this sentence (latched, hauled, and entered) assigned to only one subject (The ninja). Intuitively, we know that the all the verbs are predicating “the ninja”, and it is not necessary to include “the ninja” before each verb. That omission is an example of an ellipsis.

Example 2–

  • Merry and Pippin stole, unwrapped, and launched the fireworks.

Here “Merry and Pippin” and “the fireworks”  undergo ellipsis. There is no need to say “Merry and Pippin stole the fireworks, Merry and Pippen unwrapped the fireworks, and Merry and Pippin launched the fireworks.”

Ellipsis in Imperatives

The understood subject or addressee of imperative sentences can also be seen as an instance of ellipsis.


  • Give me my precious!

instead of….

  • (You) give me my precious!

-The understood subject of “you” is the instance of ellipsis