Are these usages of "not" ellipsis or something else?

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Brad Pitt loves Marion Cotillard, ( he does ) not ( love ) Angelina Jolie.

  • Well, at least these writers write in headlinese: because they are writing headlines! Sep 24, 2016 at 2:12

1 Answer 1


So obscure English time, "ellipsis" is singular, "ellipses" is plural. It's not a commonly used word so I wouldn't worry much about it.

Anyway to answer your question: Technically, yes, you are right, and these are elliptical sentences. Apparently in "formal" English you should only remove those parts of the sentence that are actually repetitive, and not just (the parts of the sentence that are) superfluous.

So "Brad Pitt loves Marion Cotillard, but (Brad Pitt does) not (love) Angelina Jolie" could be shortened by removing the stuff in parentheses. However the sentence "Brat Pitt loves Marion Cotillard, not Angelina Jolie" is not strictly formal, since you excluded the expected conjunction "but".

However, in this day and age it's not necessary to be formal. It's often more natural and native to write like a newspaper headline.

  • Thank you, unfortunately if people insist on writing like a newspaper headline, in future there will be vast difference in English language actually in any language. Sep 23, 2016 at 23:15
  • What's obscure about the plural of ellipsis? Or of crisis? Or of basis? Or of analysis? Or of thesis? (Or any of the words formed with it?) Or, for that matter, of index, bacterium, stratum and phenomenon? How about crisis and its plural: commonly used? Sep 24, 2016 at 2:05
  • 1
    @P.E.Dant is that a question or an argument? It's obscure because that level of detail is rarely used or useful in casual conversation outside of academia. It's like the old argument over the plural of "octopus" -- the average English speaker couldn't care less. Interesting to know, certainly, but mostly just trivia.
    – Andrew
    Sep 25, 2016 at 21:52
  • It's neither: it's a comment in the form of a rhetorical interrogative. There is no "argument," old or new, over the plurals of crisis, basis, thesis, &c. &c. &c. To tell a learner that such things are obscure is to do that learner a disservice. The plural of ellipsis is not "ellipsises," and that's not at all obscure. Sep 25, 2016 at 21:58

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