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  • Ellipsis and substitution

    Exercise 3

    Fill in the gaps using one suitable word or two contracted words (e.g. don’t, shouldn’t, or similar).

    1Don't use those napkins, use the we bought in Prague.

    2I told you to wash the dishes yesterday and you , so wash them now.

    3A: Are you going to the lake this weekend?     B: I don't think .

    4A: Are you going to the lake this weekend?     B: I don't think I .

    5A: My car is being repaired.     B: is mine; we'll have to take the bus.

    6I told Peter to tell the truth, but he decided not .

    7She was supposed to visit them, but she .

    8I won't pass the selection process and will you.

    9I wanted to travel to Japan this summer, but I can't afford .

    10A: Will she be at the reception?     B: I'm not.


  • Ellipsis

    Repeated subject or subject + auxiliary verb

    After and, but, and or we can leave out a repeated subject or a subject + auxiliary verb.

    • He closed the door and he took off his shoes. 
    • We could go out or we could have a party at home.
    • She called but she didn’t leave a message. 

    Repeated verb phrase or adjective after the same auxiliary

    We can avoid repeating an adjective, a verb or a verb phrase and repeat only the auxiliary or modal verb.

    • Maria should take the exam, but I don’t think you should take the exam.
    • She’ll go to the meeting but I won’t go to the meeting
    • They say he is the best right now, but I don’t think he is the best.

    Use do/does/did in the second clause or sentence when the verb is present or past simple.

    • She doesn’t like it, but I do.
    • She liked it, but I didn’t.  

    Repeated verb phrase after a different auxiliary

    We can also omit a repeated verb phrase when we use a different auxiliary or modal verb.

    • I’m studying for the exams, but not as much as I should be studying.  
    • I told you I’d help you, but I can’t help you.

    In the second clause or sentence, we may need to leave two auxiliaries to express past meaning.

    • She didn’t win, but she could have won
    • ‘Did you go?’ ‘No, but I should have gone.’ 

    Repeated verb phrase after the infinitive with to (reduced infinitive)

    A reduced infinitive is when you leave out a repeated verb phrase after an infinitive with to.

    • I shouldn’t go out tonight, but I really want to go out
    • ‘Are you going to sell the car?’ ‘No, I‘ve decided not to sell the car. ‘



    One, ones

    We can use one to avoid repeating a singular countable noun, and we can use ones to avoid repeating a plural noun.

    • ‘Do you need a pen?’ ‘No, I’ve already got one.’
    • ‘Which car do you prefer?’ ‘I like the red one.’
    • Are you going to wear these trousers or the ones that I gave you?
    • I’d lend you a pen, but this is the only one I have.

    Do so

    We can use do so (or does so, did so, doing so, etc.) to avoid repeating a verb phrase.

    • If I can help, I’ll be happy to do so. (=to help)
    • I won’t apologise, because doing so would be admitting that I was wrong. (=apologising)

    We can also use do it/that (more informal) instead of do so.

    • They told me to be quiet and I did it/that/so.

    If so, if not

    We can use if so/if that is so (positive) or if not (negative) to avoid repeating a clause in a conditional sentence.

    • Do you want to be better at what you do? If so, pay attention to what I have to say. (=If you want to be better at what you do)
    • Mr Chen should be there when you arrive. If not, just give me a call. (=If Mr Chen isn’t there when you arrive)

    Using so and not as substitutes for clauses

    We use so after certain verbs of thinking and speaking to avoid repeating a positive clause. This use is common with the verbs assume, believe, expect, guess, hope, imagine, presume, suppose, suspect, say, tell sb, think and the expressions be afraid and it seems/appears.

    • ‘Are they coming?’ ‘I think so.’ (=they are coming)
    • ‘I didn’t do it.’ ‘If you say so.’ (=that you didn’t do it)
    • ‘Is she going to be there?’ ‘I hope so.’ (=she’s going to be there)

    When we want to avoid repeating a negative clause, we can use a positive verb + not or a negative verb + so.  We can use either of those forms with the verbs appear, seem, suppose.

    • ‘Did they leave a copy of the key?’ ‘It doesn’t seem so/It seems not.’

    We normally use a positive verb + not with be afraid, assume, guess, hope, presume, suspect.

    • ‘Shall we go for a run tomorrow?’ ‘I’m afraid not. I have to be at the office all day.’

    We normally use a negative verb + so with believe, expect, imagine, think.

    • ‘Will it take long to fix it?’ ‘I don’t think so.’

    So, neither

    We can use so and neither + auxiliary + subject to avoid repeating a clause when we are agreeing with someone.

    • ‘I can be there at any time tomorrow.’ ‘So can I.’ (=I can be there at any time tomorrow too.)
    • ‘I shouldn’t take the offer, and neither should you.’ (=and you shouldn’t take the offer either.)

    If there is no auxiliary verb in the first clause or sentence, we use do/does or did.

    • ‘I love this book.’ ‘So do I.’
    • ‘We arrived on time, and so did all the other guests.’
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