2

Preparing the rats for the dissection session, they came across a queer phenomenon.

I think it was this before the ellipsis:

While they were preparing the rats for the dissection session, they came across a queer phenomenon.

Here the adverbial particle while and the NP1 which is exactly the NP1 of the main sentence and a form of the verb be has been omitted. Could you give me a link which explains this kind of ellipsis and the like?

Another instance:

Obviously sad, she entered the room.

which has been:

While she was obviously sad, she entered the room.

3
  • Your first sentence seems to be a case of the present participial phrase. The other, an adjunct. Feb 20, 2014 at 21:16
  • Hi @Juya. Do either of these answers help? If so, consider accepting one. And if not, perhaps explain a bit more clearly how they don't help and what you're looking for? Thanks. Mar 13, 2014 at 16:52
  • Dear @starsplusplus, Yes it was very helpful. both your answer and stoneyB's were a great help:) cheers a lot
    – Juya
    Mar 14, 2014 at 14:08

2 Answers 2

3

This isn't an ellipsis. An ellipsis is when there is omission that is implied from context (usually it's a repeated part that is omitted), e.g.

Should I call you, or you me? = Should I call you, or [should] you [call] me?

Your examples on the other hand are phrases that describe the subject.

e.g.

Obviously sad, she entered the room.

Here, "obviously sad" is an adjective phrase that describes her. You can rephrase to something longer, but that's not the same as an ellipsis.

Here's your other example:

Preparing the rats for the dissection session, they came across a queer phenomenon.

Again, "preparing the rats for the dissection session" is a phrase describing them. In this case it's a participle phrase rather than an adjective phrase because it contains a verb (preparing), but it functions the same way: describing the subject of the main clause.

4

You have correctly paraphrased the opening clause; but you are mistaken in supposing that this is some sort of ellipsis. This is merely one way of expressing what is expressed.

For instance, any of the following could be supplements which would satisfactorily paraphrase the clause:

While they were / preparing the rats ...
When they were / preparing the rats ...
As they were / preparing the rats ...
While / preparing the rats ...
When / preparing the rats ...
In preparing / the rats ...
In the course of / preparing the rats ...
At the time of / preparing the rats ...
On the occasion of / preparing the rats ...
During the process of / preparing the rats ...

Nor is there any reason to confine yourself to participial expression of prepare:

During preparation of / the rats ...
In the course of preparation of / the rats ... etc.

None of these is 'canonical' or more fundamental than the others. Nothing is ‘missing’ or omitted from the clause; all that is missing is some expression which enables you to bring the clause within your abstract model of the syntax.

2
  • look at this "Being jealous, she did not let Bob talk to Jessica" Here seemingly it equals "because she was jealous, she did not let Bob talk to Jessica." Are there any rules to find this out? sometime it apparently shows a causal relationship
    – Juya
    Feb 24, 2014 at 8:09
  • 2
    It is not the inference but the juxtaposition that licenses the inference. "She was jealous. She did not let Bob talk to Jessica" says the same thing and bears the same inference. Feb 24, 2014 at 12:38

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .