English Daily Workout: Use of Auxiliaries in Ellipses: Lesson and Exercise

Use of Auxiliaries in Ellipses: Lesson and Exercise

 Grammar Lesson and Exercises: Use of Auxiliaries in Ellipses


d. Ellipsis
In English, words can sometimes be omitted from a sentence without changing the meaning of the sentence. The words which are omitted are said to be "understood". This type of short form is usually referred to as ellipsis.

Short answers are one kind of ellipsis. For instance, in the example:
      Can you speak Spanish? Yes, I can.
the short answer Yes, I can, means Yes, I can speak Spanish. The words speak Spanish are understood.

Another kind of ellipsis uses the words and so, followed by the verb or first auxiliary, followed by the subject.

For instance, the sentence:
      He can speak Spanish, and I can speak Spanish too.
would normally be shortened to:
      He can speak Spanish, and so can I.

Other examples of this type of ellipsis are given below. The verbs and auxiliaries are underlined.

Without Ellipsis: She is tired, and I am tired too.
With Ellipsis: She is tired, and so am I.

Without Ellipsis: They like ice cream, and we like ice cream too.
With Ellipsis: They like ice cream, and so do we.

Without Ellipsis: He wrote a letter, and I wrote a letter too.
With Ellipsis: He wrote a letter, and so did I.

Without Ellipsis: You had worked all night, and I had worked all night too.
With Ellipsis: You had worked all night, and so had I.

Without Ellipsis: You should get more sleep, and we should get more sleep too.
With Ellipsis: You should get more sleep, and so should we.

As illustrated above, the rules for forming the construction with and so are similar to the rules for forming tag questions and short answers. Thus, in the case of the Simple Present and Simple Past of the verb to be, the verb itself is used; in the case of the Simple Present and Simple Past of verbs other than the verb to be, the auxiliary to do is used; and in the case of all other tenses and conjugations, the first auxiliary is used.

See Exercise 16.

The construction using the words and so is used to express an affirmative idea, following an affirmative statement.

In contrast, a similar construction, using the words and neither, is used to express a negative idea, following a negative statement.

For instance, the sentence:
      He cannot speak Danish, and I cannot speak Danish either.
would normally be shortened to:
      He cannot speak Danish, and neither can I.

Other examples of this type of ellipsis are given below. The verbs and auxiliaries are underlined.

Without Ellipsis: She is not ready, and you are not ready either.
With Ellipsis: She is not ready, and neither are you.

Without Ellipsis: They do not own a car, and he does not own a car either.
With Ellipsis: They do not own a car, and neither does he.

Without Ellipsis: We have not forgotten, and she has not forgotten either.
With Ellipsis: We have not forgotten, and neither has she.

Without Ellipsis: They couldn't find it, and we couldn't find it either.
With Ellipsis: They couldn't find it, and neither could we.

See Exercise 17.



Table of Contents