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GRAMMAR - PRO-FORMS (SUBSTITUTES) & ELLIPSIS (OMISSIONS)

1. WHY? – “Other things being equal, language users follow the maxim, ‘Reduce as much as possible’ ”
Quirk & Greenbaum pg 247, A Student’s Grammar of the English Language, Longman 1990.

2. Recoverability – substitutes and ellipted elements can be recovered from the situational, structural or
textual context.

3. Antecedents & replaced expressions don’t always necessarily refer to the same thing; what is
replaced is the form not the (semantic) content..

Eg. : Fiona got a first prize this year and I got one last year.
( The prize I got is not identical to the prize which Fiona got).

Antecedent PRO-FORM Examples


Noun Phrases & 3rd person pronouns and Ten percent of insomniacs sleep soundly when they
their constituents determiners – he/she /it come to a sleep clinic
(Note: all pronouns are pro-forms for noun-phrases
not just nouns)
indef. Pronouns such as Some equipment has been damaged but none has
– both, any, all, both, been lost.
each, either, some, none This year we produced more coal but sold less
(each of these is somewhat elliptical in its own
capacity)
NPs demonstratives I read his first novel and that was boring too
np, pp, adj. Phrase, “the same” Yesterday I felt under the weather and today I feel
and be a subj or obj. the same
complement.
phrases with count “one” (for singular count Can you give me a few nails? I need one /some
nouns nouns) and “some”/ “a
few”–for non-count and
plurals
predicate do I didn’t touch the TV set but Peggy might have
(done)

Predicate do so The planned to go to Hawaii, but nobody knows if


they did (so).
predicate (when the do it, do that, do so Is Connie trying to light the stove? She should have
verb is an action done it by now
rather than a state or Are you trying to light the stove with a match? I
event) wouldn’t do that.

predication so You asked me to leave and I did so


place adverbials here, there If you look in the top drawer, you will find it there
time adverbials then One morning the captain invited us for breakfast.
He told us about his secret orders then.
complement so If he is a criminal, its his parents who have made
him so
like that (after “be”) The plants are healthy enough now but I wonder
how long they will be like that.
object of that-clause appear so , not Ruth is waiting to hear if she got the job, and it
hope so, not appears so/not.
Will Oxford win the next boat race? I hope so / not
subject-operator so You asked him to leave and so did I
inversion
whole clause so Does the price cover hotels? I think so