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:

Examples of Substitution:

  • 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. 

Examples of Ellipsis:

  • 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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