Writing

How to Write an Elliptical Sentence: Improve Your Writing

Written by the MasterClass staff

Last updated: Sep 13, 2021 • 4 min read

The beauty of elliptical language is not in the words a sentence contains, but in the words it does not. In English language prose and poetry, elliptical construction involves the omission of a word or words, while elliptical storytelling involves artfully obtuse language to dance around certain subjects. To understand what an elliptical construction looks like, just look at the first sentence of this paragraph. Its second clause omits use of the verb “contain,” but the verb is nonetheless implied by the first part of the sentence. This arguably makes the sentence more elegant than it would be with a second instance of “contain.”

Elliptical writing occurs when an author opts to not describe an event literally. Instead the writer implies it obliquely—which can be more artful than spelling it out.