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After reading the comments and answer for this post, I have realized that the best (and/or maybe the only) way to master elliptical structure is seeing and examining more examples in this subject.

I have seen that in some elliptical sentences the elided material can precede its antecedent, for example

The student who wanted to answer the question did answer the question .

The student who wanted to answer the question did answer the question .

(Please note that the elided words are indicated with subscripts.)

Can any one tell me whether such a form (i.e., letting the ellipsis precede its antecedent) is appropriate for formal writing? If so, under what circumstances can one apply it in elliptical structures?

  • Please note that my native language is very different from English and I am learning the basics of English, so please excuse me if I cannot convey the main idea of my question. Please also note that I am only interested in formal English, so please answer my question with respect to this fact. – Later Apr 4 at 12:44
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    I wonder how you define formal english. According to a specific english as a foreign language test? I've been a technical writer for 20 years, so I produce "formal documents", but I suspect more and more that the idea of "formal english " itself is artificial... – sesquipedalias Apr 4 at 12:56
  • @sesquipedalias You mean that the term “formal English” is incorrect? – Later Apr 4 at 13:03
  • @Later Please note that the purpose of comments is not to provide updates to your post (or, in your case, repeated information). – userr2684291 Apr 4 at 13:03
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    I would only elide something that was previously mentioned. Eliding something to only mention it later is awkward—because there is a period of confusion that exists until the latter part of the sentence is read. (In other words, I don't like the second version of the example sentence.) – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Apr 5 at 19:36

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