English as a Second Language/Another follow-up question

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QUESTION: Please tell me whether the following examples are correct, and give me more examples if necessary.

My father is thin and my mother is fat.
My father is thin and my mother fat.

I saw a man and a woman.
I saw a man and woman.

Peter likes to eat apples, and John likes to eat oranges.
Peter likes to eat apples, and John does oranges.
Peter likes to eat apples, and John oranges.

Peter finished three tasks, but Mary finished two tasks.
Peter finished three tasks, but Mary did two.
Peter finished three tasks, but Mary two.

Peter took advantage of John as Mary took advantage of Jane.
Peter took advantage of John as Mary did Jane.
Peter took advantage of John as Mary Jane.

You see only part of the problem, but you do not see the whole problem.
You see only part of the problem, but not the whole.

You can do what you want to do.
You can do what you want to.
You can do what you want.

I must do what I should do.
I must do what I should.

He can swim faster than I can swim.
He can swim faster than I.
(He can swim faster than me.)

A lawyer can make a better teacher than a doctor can make a teacher.
A lawyer can make a better teacher than a doctor.

A lawyer can make a better teacher than make a doctor.
A lawyer can make a better teacher than doctor. (If it is correct, please explain why the ariticle should be omitted.)

ANSWER: Hello Matthew and thank you for your interesting question.

First of all, the examples you're referring to have nothing to do with ellipses.

For more on ellipsis, please see this link below:

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/marks/ellipsis.htm

Back to your examples though. I'll take them one at a time:

My father is thin and my mother is fat. ---correct
My father is thin and my mother fat. ---correct

I saw a man and a woman. ---correct
I saw a man and woman. ---incorrect. You need an article in front of every noun.

Peter likes to eat apples, and John likes to eat oranges.---correct
Peter likes to eat apples, and John does oranges. ---incorrect. It sounds as if Peter does oranges, and that makes no sense.
Peter likes to eat apples, and John oranges.---correct

Peter finished three tasks, but Mary finished two tasks.---correct
Peter finished three tasks, but Mary did two. ---incorrect, see above
Peter finished three tasks, but Mary two.---correct

Peter took advantage of John as Mary took advantage of Jane. ---correct
Peter took advantage of John as Mary did Jane. ---incorrect
Peter took advantage of John as Mary Jane.---incorrect

You see only part of the problem, but you do not see the whole problem. ---correct
You see only part of the problem, but not the whole. ---correct

You can do what you want to do. ---correct
You can do what you want to. ---correct
You can do what you want. --- correct

---You can also say "whatever" instead of "what" in the 3 sentences above

I must do what I should do. ---?
I must do what I should. ---?

I don't think I've ever heard this expression. "You got to do what you got to do" is the common expression.

He can swim faster than I can swim. ---correct
He can swim faster than I. ---incorrect "He can swim faster than I can." is correct though
(He can swim faster than me.) ---correct

A lawyer can make a better teacher than a doctor can make a teacher.---incorrect
A lawyer can make a better teacher than a doctor.---correct

A lawyer can make a better teacher than make a doctor.---incorrect
A lawyer can make a better teacher than doctor. (If it is correct, please explain why the ariticle should be omitted.) ---incorrect.
A lawyer can make a better teacher than A doctor. You need an article in front of "doctor"

I hope this helps.

Let me know if you need further clarification on this topic and I'll try my best.

Looking forward to more questions from you.

Best regards,


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I am a native Chinese speaker who has read a newspaper article  entitled "Ellipsis" written by a Chinese who was teaching English at a university in China and now provides a series of free tutorials on Youtube. The following examples are quoted from the article (text in brackets is my own words).

Peter finished three tasks, but Mary did two tasks.
--> Peter finished three tasks, but Mary did two. (you said it is incorrect)

He can swim faster than I can swim.
--> He can swim faster than I. (you said it is incorrect)

A scholar would make a better teacher than a diplomat.
= A scholar would make a better teacher than a diplomat would make a teacher. (is it correct?)

A scholar would make a better teacher than diplomat.
= A scholar would make a better teacher than a diplomat would make a teacher. (I guess you deem it incorrect, given your previous reply.)
-------------------------------------------
Can you explain why they are incorrect? Perhaps I can leave messages on Youtube, relaying your opinions to the author.

ANSWER: OK Matthew,

I haven't seen this youtube video you're talking about but here is what I do know.

Most likely the professor was talking about ellipsis as a device in rhetoric English  - the omission of one or several words that must be supplied by the reader. The "catch" when using ellipses is for the sentence to keep its original meaning even if certain (less important words) are left out.

With this in mind, I suppose some of the examples you mentioned above may make sense to some despite the words that were left out, but it very much depends on who's reading them.


Peter finished three tasks, but Mary did two tasks.
--> Peter finished three tasks, but Mary did two. (you said it is incorrect)

To me the following would make more sense:

Peter finished three tasks; Mary, two. (note the punctuation please which is a very important aspect here!) For what it's worth, the punctuation needs to be corrected in some of the sentences in your original question to me, but this wasn't what you asked me for.

He can swim faster than I can swim.
--> He can swim faster than I. (you said it is incorrect)

Again, this may make sense, I'd stick to "He can swim faster than I can."

A scholar would make a better teacher than a diplomat.
My understanding of this sentence is the following:
A scholar would make a better teacher but not as good a diplomat. This is not the meaning you derived in your question

A scholar would make a better teacher than a diplomat would make a teacher. (is it correct?) This sentence doesn't really sound correct to me.

A scholar would make a better teacher than diplomat.
= A scholar would make a better teacher than a diplomat would make a teacher. (I guess you deem it incorrect, given your previous reply.)

Again, I am having doubts here as to what you perceive the meaning of the original sentence to be.

Since I mentioned punctuation, here is how I see some of the sentences you have originally submitted:

My father is thin and my mother, fat.
---also: My father is thin; my mother, fat.

Peter likes to eat apples, and John, oranges.
--- also: Peter likes to eat apples; John, oranges.

Peter finished three tasks, but Mary, two. (I'd reluctantly say that this is correct, again, punctuation does make a difference here)
--- also: Peter finished three tasks; Mary, two.

You see only part of the problem, but not the whole.
---also: You see only part of the problem; not the whole.

Lastly - I hope I haven't made this too confusing:

One of your examples was:

Peter took advantage of John as Mary took advantage of Jane. --- This is correct.

Peter took advantage of John as Mary did Jane. ---This is incorrect.

---This, instead, makes sense: Peter took advantage of John as Mary did OF Jane.

Peter took advantage of John as Mary Jane.---This is incorrect.

---Also, here, this, instead, makes sense: Peter took advantage of John as Mary, OF Jane.

Hopefully this clarifies things for you. And again, thanks for a very interesting question.

Best,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Amy,

"A scholar would make a better teacher than a diplomat."
Your understanding of this sentence is: A scholar would make a better teacher but not as good a diplomat.
Do you mean "A scholar would make a better teacher, but a scholar would make a less good diplomat" or "A scholar would make a better teacher, but a diplomat would make a still better teacher (i.e. a scholar is less good than a diplomat at being a teacher)"?

"A scholar would make a better teacher than a diplomat would make a teacher."
This sentence doesn't really sound correct to you, and you are having doubts here as to what I perceive the meaning.
In the said article, the author explained the meaning in Chinese, and the following is what I perceive.
"A scholar is better than a diplomat at being a teacher."
Does it make sense and sound correct to you?

Are the following correct?
Peter likes to participate in politics, John likes to participate in athletics.
-->Peter likes to participate in politics; John, in athletics.

Peter hated John as Mary hated Jane.
-->Peter hated John as Mary, Jane.

Peter gave me an apple, Mary gave me an orange.
-->Peter gave me an apple; Mary, me an orange.

Peter gave me an apple, Peter gave Mary an orange.
-->Peter gave me an apple; Peter, Mary an orange.

It taxes my comprehension to grasp the correct usage.

Cheers,
Matthew Wai

Answer
Hello Matthew,

let's try to clarify your questions here:

"A scholar would make a better teacher than a diplomat."
Your understanding of this sentence is: A scholar would make a better teacher but not as good a diplomat.
Do you mean "A scholar would make a better teacher, but a scholar would make a less good diplomat" YES (less good is not exactly standard English, but for the sake of clarifying this, yes, that is what I meant)
or "A scholar would make a better teacher, but a diplomat would make a still better teacher (i.e. a scholar is less good than a diplomat at being a teacher)"? NO.

"A scholar would make a better teacher than a diplomat would make a teacher."
This sentence doesn't really sound correct to you, and you are having doubts here as to what I perceive the meaning.
In the said article, the author explained the meaning in Chinese, and the following is what I perceive.
"A scholar is better than a diplomat at being a teacher."
Does it make sense and sound correct to you?

Thanks for clarifying this to me. So,  if the meaning you're trying to convey is this: "A scholar is better than a diplomat at being a teacher." then the "original sentence"
"A scholar would make a better teacher than a diplomat would make a teacher."
should stay as is. Rephrasing it using ellipses would change the meaning as I explained in my previous reply to you:
To me "A scholar would make a better teacher than a diplomat." means that a scholar would make a good teacher, but not as good of a diplomat"

Are the following correct?
Peter likes to participate in politics, John likes to participate in athletics.
-->Peter likes to participate in politics; John, in athletics. --- Correct

Peter hated John as Mary hated Jane.
-->Peter hated John as Mary, Jane. --- Correct

Peter gave me an apple, Mary gave me an orange.
-->Peter gave me an apple; Mary, me an orange. --- Incorrect. Too many nouns/pronouns in a row (Mary, me, orange) and this really makes no sense. You're dealing with too many people here and it is really confusing, so I suggest you don't try to use an elliptical construction here.

Peter gave me an apple, Peter gave Mary an orange.
-->Peter gave me an apple; Peter, Mary an orange. --- Incorrect - see the previous example: (Peter, Mary, orange...again it is confusing)

Matthew,

the key to use elliptical constructions is to indeed eliminate the "redundant" words, but to keep the original meaning of the statement. Some sentences just can't be made any simpler.

here are some websites that may come in handy:

http://52englishfreaks.blogspot.ca/2013/02/elliptical-structure.html

http://evagirl88.wordpress.com/2012/07/01/elliptical-construction/

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/a-guide-to-elliptical-constructions/

http://journal.unwidha.ac.id/index.php/magistra/article/download/224/174


Best,

English as a Second Language

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Amy Baker

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I can answer question about grammar, spelling, syntax, idioms, reading and/or writing that pertain to English as a Second Language. I am knowledgeable about both TOEFL and IELTS.

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