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In English languages Ellipses are very common and widely used. Few are easy to pick up but few others are really hard to get. for non native speakers it's really very hard to pick up a difficult ellipsis.

Picking up ellipses from a given sentence is one thing and deciding when to omit some part as an ellipsis in a sentence while writing is a different ballgame altogether.

Today while writing a sentence I am put into that test.

Please advice me while writing when to correctly omit some part as an ellipsis.

I was writing this sentence -

The new design of Twitter profile is more of a Facebook profile than (it's been) never before.

I was planning to include "it's been" part as an ellipsis. Please help me out. And I want to know how to decide, so the answer shouldn't be necessarily limited to this particular sentence that I quoted. I want a general approach.

Thanking you in advance.

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    Not an answer (spelling out the rules for ellipses is not easy, especially because it's more about intuition than rules for me; I'd love to see the rules, too), but I think "than ever" is more idiomatic than "than never before". – Damkerng T. Apr 9 '14 at 5:59
  • @DamkerngT. nods, good point! – Maulik V Apr 9 '14 at 6:00
  • I'm afraid...there are no concrete rules – Maulik V Apr 9 '14 at 7:30
  • @MaulikV Well, tell me if I omit "it's been" part from my quoted sentence, will it still be correct, right? But if I omit that part I guess "never before" will not act like a noun. And so I think the sentence should sound wrong and incorrect. – Man_From_India Apr 9 '14 at 7:45
  • I think the conjunction than takes care of that. Yes, but then I recommend Damkerng's comment replacing it with than ever. After the conjunction, the sentence will stand on its own. – Maulik V Apr 9 '14 at 8:40
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Let's focus on OP's example sentence...

The new design of Twitter profile is more of a Facebook profile than (it's been) never ever before.

Note that never could never be correct in this context. Also note that either it's been or ever can both be used in isolation here, but if both are used, they must be "merged" as ...than it's ever been before.


Having got those niggles out of the way, let's consider the possibility of including an ellipsis...

The new design of Twitter profile is more of a Facebook profile than ... before.

The form can only be valid if the writer is citing some pre-existing text, from which certain words have been omitted (and replaced by an ellipsis to indicate the omission). That doesn't seem to match OP's context, where all the indications are that he's writing his own "original" text, not citing someone else's.


There are other occasions where ellipses might be used to indicate I could write/say more words here, but in fact I'm not going to, but these are generally restricted to "trailing off" contexts...

"I'm wondering …" Juan said, bemused.

... where Juan himself is the one whose words "trailed off" (rather than that the writer decided not to transcribe any more of what Juan said).

  • +1, not only because you correctly use the singular and plural forms of ellipsis. :-) – Adam Feb 13 '15 at 17:21
  • @Adam: I'm still not entirely sure exactly what the question is getting at (perhaps OP will enlighten us if I've missed the point). I just picked this out as the "oldest unanswered" question, by way of a bit of "housekeeping". – FumbleFingers Feb 13 '15 at 18:34
  • more of a Facebook is also wrong - should read more like a Facebook or similar. – Mike Brockington Feb 25 at 14:54
  • @MikeBrockington: In your ideolect, maybe. But I suggest my usage is perfectly natural for most people. Not that I'm going to search for supporting evidence, but I'm pretty sure Americans in particular would be more likely than my compatriots (I'm British) to include of in this construction. Me, I can take it or leave it. – FumbleFingers Feb 25 at 15:05
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I don't know of complete rules for ellipses, but I would not use ellipses in that sentence.

If I saw "The new design of Twitter profile is more of a Facebook profile than ... never before," I would think that you were quoting from another article, and that you left out part of what that article said.

I would only use ellipses in the middle of a sentence to show that I was omitting part of the sentence. For example, if I took this sentence from Wikipedia: "Ford of Europe introduced the Focus in 1998 to the European market as a replacement for the Ford Escort" and I only care about the fact that the Ford Focus replaced the Ford Escort, I could write "Ford of Europe introduced the Focus ... as a replacement for the Ford Escort". (I need to use quotes and cite a source there.) The ellipses tell the reader that I left something out that was in the original quote.

I would not use ellipses if I was writing something myself, but only when I quote something else and I want to show the reader that I have omitted part of my quote.

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There are two main ways to use ellipses. The first is in informal writing, to indicate that a sentence is trailing off in the middle. It will show up if you are reading a conversations.

Example:

Joe: “Hey Mike, are you ready for the test tomorrow?”

Mike: “I think so, but then again …”

Joe: “So you haven’t studied enough either?”

Mike doesn’t finish his sentence, and the ellipses indicate that his voice is trailing off at the end, and that he doesn’t intend to finish.

The other use is in quoting material. Ellipses indicate that material has been removed from the quote. The quoted material eliminated should be irrelevant to the meaning of the sentence. Ellipses are normally used to remove either full sentences or clauses that are talking about something the writer using the quote doesn’t care about. Basically, they are used to summarize the important bits of a quote. Stylistcally, ellipses should never be used to change the meaning of the words being quoted. A good description of this use is at http://www.thepunctuationguide.com/ellipses.html.

In your example, the use of ellipses is technically correct because you are indicating words have been removed. Stylistically it is poor. You are using them to change the writing style of the quote, not to remove unneeded information. The “it has been” in this case is a writing style choice on the part of the author, and it would be odd for the quoting author to remove it.

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There are two things to learn here. First than (and as) can replace subject, object, or complements in a clause. So, if you are thinking (from your comment) that leaving out (it's been) will disturb your clause, don't worry, it won't. Some examples...

He worries more than is necessary (*more than it/what is necessary)
There were a lot of people at the exhibition -- more than came last year (more than they came last year).

Now the main part...ellipsis.

We can leave out words after as and than if the meaning is clear - Swan's Practical English Usage.

I found more blackberries than you (than you found.)

Having this said,

The new design of Twitter profile is more of a Facebook profile than never before - seems okay.

However, Damkerng's input is very useful. Consider this and it'll sound better...

The new design of Twitter profile is more of a Facebook profile than ever.

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    I'm not sure why this got downvoted. It's the only response that even attempts to answer the actual question, which was about omitting words from a sentence, not the punctuation mark. – Jason Patterson Nov 9 '14 at 15:43

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