Michael Swan in his book (page 2) writes

abbreviated styles

Some styles of writing and speech have their own special grammar rules, often because of the need to save space or time.

advertisements and instructions

Small ads and instructions often leave out articles, subject or object pronouns, forms of be and prepositions.

  • Cars wanted for cash. Contact Evans, 6 Latton Square.
    (NOT Cars are wanted for cash...)
  • Single man looking for flat Oxford area. Phone 806127 weekends.
  • Job needed urgently. Will do anything legal. Call 312654.
  • Pour mixture into large saucepan, heat until boiling, then add three pounds sugar and leave on low heat for 45 minutes.
  • Can be assembled in ten minutes. Easy to clean. Simple controls.
  • Batteries not included.

So, my question is what would all the sentences look like if we added all the things that are missing there?

  • 4
    A response to the identical question on English Language & Usage suggests that you try to fill in the missing words yourself, using the first one as an example. (Hint: Most of the missing words are articles or parts of the verb to be.) Jun 24, 2020 at 13:07
  • 1
    @KateBunting2) "A single man is looking for a flat in the Oxford area" - is clear for me. 3)A job is needed urgntly.I will do anything legal.4)Pour the mixture into a large suacepan, heat it until it's boiling, then add three pounds of sugar and leave it on the heat for 45 minutes 5) Don't understand this part. Did I write the sentences correctly and how to write the last one? Jun 24, 2020 at 16:44
  • 3
    There, you see you can do it! The last one: [This item] can be assembled in ten minutes. It ia easy to clean and has simple controls. Batteries are not included [in the package]. (That is, you have to buy them separately.) Jun 25, 2020 at 7:55

1 Answer 1


The following examples show us what the sentences might look like if we added in some words not present in the original newspaper advertisements:

Example 1

  • "Cars Wanted for Cash. Contact Evans, 6 Latton Square" (EX1A)

  • "Evans wants to buy Cars. Evans will give you cash in exchange for your car. Evans wants cars. Evans will get a Car. Evans will receive a car. You will get cash. The word "Cash" means the same thing as "money." Contact Evans. Evans can usually be found at the street address 6 Latton Square. The name of the city is not included in this street address. (EX1B)

To digress, advertisements with pictures are easier to understand than advertisements with only words. During my lifetime, craigslist.org allowed pictures, which I enjoyed.


Example 2

  • I am a single man looking for a flat in the Oxford area. (EX2A)

  • I am a single man looking for a flat in the city of Oxford or close to the city of Oxford. The word "flat" can also have the same meaning as the word "apartment". My telephone number is 806127. Please call me over the telephone on weekends. The weekend is the two days Saturday and Sunday. (EX2B)

Note that:

  • In the United States people say "apartment"
  • In the United Kingdom people use the word "flat"

It is unusual that the phone number in the example was 806127. Almost every phone number in the United States I have used was ten digits long. For example, (303) - 148 - 9817 is what phone numbers look like today.

Example 3

  • Job needed urgently. Will do anything legal. Call 312654.(EX3A)

  • I urgently need a Job. I will do anything which is legal. I am unwilling to break the law while working. I want money. I will work for money. I would like to have the job as soon as possible. My phone number is 312654. Please call (EX3B)

Example 5

Pour [the] mixture into [a] large saucepan. Heat [the mixture] until [the mixture] is boiling. Add three pounds sugar to the [the mixture]. Next, leave the mixture on low heat for 45 minutes.

Note that nobody cooking at home would three pounds of sugar into a mixture. That is too much sugar. A person would usually use at most one cup of sugar for a recipe. one cup of sugar is approximately 0.82932275213 pounds.

Example 6

  • can be assembled in ten minutes. easy to clean. has simple controls. batteries not included with the machine. (EX6B) (EX6A)

  • I am selling a machine. The machine can be assembled in ten minutes. The machine is easy to clean. The machine has simple controls. The batteries not included with the machine. The machine will not do what you want the machine to do unless you put batteries inside of the machine (EX6B)

There is a problem with example six. No person would want to buy a machine unless they understood what the machine did. For example, you would not buy a machine unless you knew that it made waffles.

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