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Commas and Elliptical Expressions

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Use a Comma

Use a comma to show the omission of a word or words readily understood from context:

In Illinois, there are seventeen such institutions; in Ohio, twenty-two; in Indiana, three.


There is an exception. When, in spite of the omissions, the construction is clear enough without the commas and semicolons, use simpler punctuation (commas only):

One manager comes from UNC, another from Duke, and a third from GW.

Strunk & White Example

Incidentally, superb writers use elliptical expressions all the time. Here are Mr. Strunk and Mr.White, describing the use of that and which, the relative pronouns:

That is the defining, or restrictive pronoun, which the nondefining, or nonrestrictive. . . . Strunk & White, p. 59.

See the elliptical expression? "That is the defining pronoun, which the nondefining …."


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