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In syntax, the term ellipsis is used for cases of rule-governed omission of constituents that are notionally and syntactically required in other contexts. Most typically, ellipsis occurs in contexts where the notional content of the ellipted constituents is recoverable from the immediately preceding context.


(in the following examples, the ellipsis site is shown by "[...]")

  • English
  • Pat plays soccer, but Dany doesn't [...].


The tern ellipsis is rarely used with a strictly defined meaning. Linguists have often attempted to distinguish various different types of non-expression of otherwise syntactically required constituents, using notions such as deletion, null instantiation and zero anaphora. There is no agreement about how these terms should be used and which distinctions need to be drawn.



From Latin ellipsis, which in turn is from Greek elleipsis 'a falling short, defect, ellipse', from elleipein 'to fall short, leave out', from en- 'in' + leipein 'to leave'. The grammatical sense is first attested in 1612.

Other languages

German Ellipse
Spanish elipsis

Russian эллипсис

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