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Ellipsis in Spanish

One thing that I feel is missing from Duolingo's courses is lessons on ellipsis.

In Spanish tree, we do get to learn about the del & al contractions and how they are mandatory. We also get to learn fairly early on that the personal pronouns can be dropped since the verb conjugation usually (but not always) is clear on its own. Very good but I don't see anything else about ellipsis and how it would be done in Spanish and I have some doubts that all ellipsis mechanisms used in English will work the same way in Spanish.

For example, we can say "I will!" in a reply to a request but I doubt we can say "Haré!"; I've always seen it as "Lo haré!", even if the "Lo" is clear and understood in the context.

Similarly, I'm not sure about this example:

"I have missed you." "And I you."

On its own, the reply is fragmentary but in a conversation, it is perfectly acceptable and is understood. Similarly, we can say:

"Rice grows in India; Bread, Africa; Barley, Europe."

But it would be unacceptable to say:

"Rice, India; Bread, Africa; Barley grows in Europe."

I'm very sure other languages have their ellipsis mechanisms and what I cited in English likely are either identical, similar with some differences or totally inapplicable. However, I could not find a good reference on this. Google assumed that I wanted the typographical ellipsis (e.g. using "..." in written form), not the linguistic concept of ellipsis. I think I already may have run across some examples when reading Spanish news but I have some doubts whether I have good understanding of how ellipsis may work in Spanish or other languages.

If anyone knows of a good reference on that subject, I'd be grateful. Gracias!

3 years ago

4 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Justin558363
Justin558363
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I would say generally that ellipsis works similarly in English and Spanish; there are definitely exceptions, but many phrases can be omitted in both. Off the top of my head, the biggest differences are with phrases that have a helping verb (auxiliary verb) in English, but not in Spanish.

So, in English you can say "I will!" and it implies "I will (do something)!". But there is no equivalent to "will" in Spanish, because the future tense is all part of one word. So, "haré" means "I will do" and, like in English, that sounds pretty awkward by itself, so you say "Lo haré" or "I will do it".

The other common helping verb with no equivalent is "do", like in the sentence, "You don't have a dog, but I do." Spanish doesn't use the verb "do" like that, so you have to use the original verb: "Tú no tienes un perro, pero yo tengo.". In this example, you can also get away with: "Tú no tienes un perro, pero yo sí."

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/bananatm

That's great examples. Thank you very much for that.

The last one especially was interesting to me because that means I have to watch out for words being used to substitute for the verb ("tener" => "sí"). I don't think we construct similar phrases like "You don't have a dog but I, yes."

Gracias de nuevo.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chaered
chaered
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Wiki ref is here

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/bananatm

Unfortunately, that particular article only cites English examples, not other languages. I wanted to see examples (or counterexamples) for other languages. However, you gave me an idea; I decided to see if there was an equivalent article in es.wikipedia; indeed, there is but it's lacking numerous examples that we were shown in the English version.

Url: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elipsis_(ling%C3%BC%C3%ADstica)

The two examples cited seems to have English equivalent, unless I'm mistaken.

"Lo bueno, si breve, dos veces bueno." => "Lo bueno, si [es] breve, [es] dos veces bueno." "It is good, if brief, twice as good." => "It is good, if [it is] brief, [it is] twice as good"

A part of me doubts whether we can get away with "if brief"; I'm more likely to say "if it's brief" but it may be me. "[it is] twice as good" sub-clause or the equivalent variant is quite common enough.

3 years ago

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