Substitution and Ellipsis

Substitution and ellipsis are both ways in which to improve your writing style by avoiding the repetition of words previously used in a sentence.


With substitution in English grammar, we replace a word previously used with another word. Common words to do this are do/does, one/ones, here, there, that, sothen.

Some can place single words and phrases while others may replace clauses. Here are some examples, with the underlined word replaced by the word in red:

  • A new theme park has opened near me but I've never been there

  • I really loved your biscuits. Can I have another one

  • I don't think you should go to meet her but that is your decision 

  • He's sure he'll pass the exam, but I don't think so

  • I'm sure you'll finish before I do 

  • He'll go next month. I think I'll go then too. 

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With ellipsis, rather than using a new word, the previously used word, phrase or clause, is left out. The context of what is being said or written makes the meaning clear without the words being there. 

  • I'm going to eat the spicy food but do you think you should eat the spicy food?

  • They were going to have a big wedding but they've decided not to have a big wedding.

  • I went shopping in the morning and I went to the doctors in the afternoon.

  • A: Could you come and see me? B: I could Maybe come and see you.

  • Are You doing ok?

  • While you are running you should listen to music.

  • The man who is wearing the suit is the MP for Greenwich. 

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