This grows out of the comment exchange to my answer on Is "whoever did" correct?

Does anyone else object to the use of "elide", and its forms "elision" and "elided" ro refer to the omission of words in a phrase, sentence or test. Often we deal here with forms where technically required or once common words are omitted from a phrase or sentence. I normal use one form or another of "elide" to describe this.

I think this is supported by the free dictionary, Collins, MW and other dictionaries.

If people object to "elide" (in its various forms), then I think "omit" and "imply" (to indicate that a missing word is implied) are much better than "ellipsis",

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    I think it would really benefit the site if we had a definitive, go-to post about the differences between "elision", "ellipsis", and "omission" in the context of English grammar and usage.
    – Eddie Kal
    Jan 22 at 1:29
  • @Araucaria I think you are mistaken. We speak of "don't" as a "contracted form" meaning the form left after the contraction. We speak of a "reduced form" meaning the sentence after the reduction has been made. What would you call the sentence or phrase that results after some words are omitted? "form" in these discussions usually refers to the result after a transformation of some sort, does it not? Jan 24 at 1:23
  • @Araucaria what it means in non-technical English: "To elide" means to leave something out. "The elided word:" is the word left out. "The elided form" is the remainder after something has been left out. If you don't like that term, what would you call the remainder after something has been left out? That is a concept which needed to be referred to by some term in my answer. Jan 24 at 1:30
  • @Araucaria I get that you don't like my use of "elided form" (although your objection rests on a bare assertion) What term would you advise that I use for the remaining text after one or more words has been omitted? I have asked this several times, and you have not answered. Jan 24 at 1:36
  • I shall be very interested to hear if anyone else has a view on this, or agrees with the view that @Araucaria takes. Do others think that my original answer would be unclear to our readers? would it still be unclear if I had said "elipted form", or "reduced form", or "shortened form", or "altered form"? Jan 24 at 1:52
  • @ColleenV No I am not mixing things up. As listed in multiple dictionary enbtrties, "elide" also has a sense in which it means "omit". This is separate from, and i belive prior to, the sense meaning "merge". This is a perfectly valid sense. Now if the consensus is that "elide:" should not be used on ELL in that sense, i will use "omit" instead. I will not in any case use "ellipsis" as a verb, or to mean anything but the typographical symbol. Jan 24 at 23:51
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    I've removed my comments here, because in general I agree that it's reasonable to use the word elide to refer to the omission of words so long as the meaning's clear. It's certainly not something for a commenter to quibble about. It might be worth remembering that ellipsis is more commonly used, especially in EFL writing, but that's no big thing, imo. Jan 26 at 23:26

Ellipsis is the technically correct word to use when talking about the omission of words. I don’t think it’s going to hurt anything to use a less technical term like “omission” or “implied word”.

I do think using “elide” or “elision” when you really mean “ellipsis” would be harmful, because in a linguistic context “elision” has a distinct meaning.

Being sloppy about the usage of technical terms can make things difficult for learners already saddled with terms that are sometimes unique to EFL courses. It doesn’t help that the words seem similar and are both about omissions.

In linguistics, an elision or deletion is the omission of one or more sounds (such as a vowel, a consonant, or a whole syllable) in a word or phrase.

In linguistics, ellipsis (from the Greek: ἔλλειψις, élleipsis, "omission") or an elliptical construction is the omission from a clause of one or more words that are nevertheless understood in the context of the remaining elements.

The on the main site has over 480 questions already, the tag has under 20 (and I found at least one of those tagged incorrectly). The description of those tags were added in 2013, so there is some history there worth considering.

  • It does not matter if one uses elided or ellipted or indeed elision or ellipsis if one is talking about the omission of words.. Both terms are used in occasionally linguistics and in EFL writing, although ellipsis is more technical and more common. The problem with the OP's post is that the elided form refers to the part that's missing, not the part that's left behind!!!. It would make no difference which form the OP used. It would have been wrong in both cases. Java Latte's description wasn't too helpful. Jan 24 at 0:53
  • @Araucaria-Nothereanymore. I didn't follow the particulars of the discussion under that question. My perspective here is "What is good for ELL?" Does it benefit learners to have arguments over "elision" versus "ellipsis" in the comments? I'm not trying to argue what is common or accepted among linguists, because that's way outside my wheelhouse. I do think that keeping a distinction between the two terms has some benefit if the community is willing, If only because of the definitions I quoted in my answer.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 24 at 2:37
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    Well, I think new members are going to use verbs that are used in non-technical English in a non-technical and perfectly understandable way in answers. The word elide is normal English for missed out in relation to words, and so is a perfectly fine word to use. It doesn't work in reverse though. Ellipse isn't a word that's commonly used to refer to the omission of phones or phonemes, individual sounds. I don't think we have any problem there though. Users aren't going to do that. Jan 24 at 2:51
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    @Araucaria-Nothereanymore. I agree with you. I wasn’t proposing we try to enforce one particular word over the other, but I still think it would be helpful if folks were aware that there is a distinction. If the community doesn’t want to make that distinction, that’s perfectly reasonable and then if someone wants to nitpick the usage of elide, we can direct them to this discussion. If you don’t want to write an answer with the perspective in your comments, I’ll probably write one up later for folks to vote on.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 24 at 12:03

I think that an answer to an ELL question should not only give an opinion about the correct answer, but also explain why, using terms that can be used to find further information using Google. That way, other users will learn how to find their own answers.

In this case, ellipsis finds the wiki article about missing words whereas elided finds dictionary definitions plus a wiki article about sounds omitted from words.

It also helps if an answerer provides links to the appropriate references, and maybe checks them to make sure that they do cover the situation in the OP's question.


It is perfectly fine to use verbs that are used in non-technical English in a non-technical and perfectly understandable way in answers.

The problem with the OP's post is that the elided form refers to the part that's missing, not the part that's left behind. It would make no difference which form the OP used. It would have been wrong in both cases.

  • I’ve paraphrased a point made in the comments and posted it as a wiki to give the community a chance to vote on it and provide a place to collect any discussion.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 25 at 14:19
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    I don't see how "elided form" can possibly mean the words omitted , as opposed to the words left after the omission, particularly with the explanatory parenthetical added after the earlier complaint. But since two experienced posters have now thought that, I will change the post to say "reduced form". For this discussion, please look at the history to see the earlier contents of the post. Jan 25 at 15:57
  • @DavidSiegel As an aside, I think the takeaway here is not whether one usage is right or wrong... usage evolves and at any time what was clearly correct or incorrect can become muddied. I think what’s important is that the usage was controversial to some and might add some unnecessary confusion for EFL learners.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 25 at 16:02

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