Business Writing

Elliptical constructions

Today we’ll take a short look at elliptical constructions. These have nothing to do with the elliptical machine at the gym, thankfully. This “elliptical” comes from “ellipsis”, which the Oxford Dictionary defines as “The omission from speech or writing of a word or words that are superfluous or able to be understood from contextual clues.”

In short, an elliptical construction is one where we leave something out.

Often we do this to avoid repeating a word of a phrase. Here are some examples to show what I mean. In these examples you can leave out the words that are in the square brackets.

Leaving out a noun

Kristy attended the conference last week; Prakash attended [the conference] too.

Leaving out a verb

She enjoys dramas, and he [enjoys] comedies.

Leaving out a verb-phrase

The sales team went to the conference, but marketing didn’t [go to the conference].

These constructions are useful when we list statistics or figures.

In 2011, the company made 10% profit; in 2012, 12%; and in 2013, 14%.

Happy writing.