Ellipsis often takes place in speech when we leave out words to avoid repetition or when the meaning is clear without them.
- "How are you?" – "(I’m) Fine, thanks."
- "What’s your name?" – "(My name is) John."
- We often use ellipsis when replying to questions, as in the following examples:
- 'Who did you go with?' 'Sally' (It would seem unnatural to answer 'I went with Sally')
- 'When's the next meeting?' 'Monday' (Instead of: 'The next meeting is on Monday')
- We can also use ellipsis when asking questions in informal speech:
- 'Ready?' (Instead of 'Are you ready?')
- 'Want help?' (Instead of 'Do you want help?')
- 'Finished?' (Instead of 'Have you finished?')
- If the meaning is clear without them, words including articles, possessives, personal pronouns and auxiliary verbs can also be left out at the beginning of sentences:
TheKids are upstairs. TheDinner's ready! This isDelicious!
- By extension, we also use it to leave out the relative pronoun (who/that/which) in zero identifying clauses:
- Men only have two faults: everything [that] they say and everything [that] they do, i.e. when it is the object in the clause.