How not to repeat words?


Consider the following phrase (a little bit technical, but I hope it doesn't matter):

Google Plus doesn’t allow non-public domains at all, Facebook allows domains of the form NAME.l, and Twitter NAME.lo.

Google Plus doesn’t allow non-public domains at all, Facebook allows domains of the form NAME.l, Twitter, NAME.lo.

The part I omitted here is "Twitter allows domains of the form NAME.lo". Is this correct? Are there any rules regarding this? How do people not repeat words in English?

UPD From what I heard so far, comma after "Twitter" is not needed. Anyway, let's choose not so technical sentence, like:

I like blue color, Mary red, Peter green, and John yellow.

Is that fine?


Posted 2016-06-20T12:04:17.400

Reputation: 385


The fancy word for this is ellipsis, in particular gapping.

– hmakholm left over Monica – 2016-06-20T12:22:11.740

2In your cited context, people do generally just repeat the relevant words (or adopt a completely different phrasing). You're more likely to encounter this level of ellipsis in speech (where intonation can help clarify a parsing which isn't necessarily obvious) or if the "list" includes *more than one instance* of the same block of text being deleted (in which case the syntactic context guides the audience towards the intended sense). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2016-06-20T13:20:01.280

@FumbleFingers In speech or if the "list" includes more than one instance? I believe under any circumstances it must include more than one instance. And can be used both in speech and writing. Am I wrong? – x-yuri – 2016-06-20T14:54:52.203

1For what it's worth, as a native English speaker, I completely misread what the sentence meant. I included "Twitter" in a list of items that was "NAME.I, Twitter, NAME.Io". Perhaps I wouldn't have if I were more familiar with the context, but I'm not sure the current structure is reliable. You could, as a sort of compromise, only repeat the word "allows", and I'm fairly certain that the "domains of the form" would be easily/obviously understood by the reader as accompanying "allows" each time – elmer007 – 2016-06-20T15:00:58.953

1@x-yuri: By "the list", I mean those elements that include the ellipsis (not counting the first one, which obviously must supply whatever text is merely implicit in subsequent elements). Your example text strikes me as clumsy/opaque in a written context, but you could use intonation in speech to mitigate this. But if you were going to list several parallel constructions (where you've only got one - "Twitter") the ellipsis becomes more contextually obvious and thus more stylistically acceptable. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2016-06-20T15:24:03.290

One thing that could confuse you is the comma after "Twitter". Additionally, indeed if you were more familiar with the context, you'd most likely be able to understand it more easily. But it may be indeed confusing. Anyway, why only comments, and not one answer? ;) And, by the way, see the nontechnical sentence I added to my question. – x-yuri – 2016-06-20T16:19:46.827

...As for compromising, would this be okay? Google Plus doesn’t allow non-public domains at all, Facebook allows domains of the form NAME.l, and Twitter allows NAME.lo. Or maybe simply adding "and", and omitting comma will do? – x-yuri – 2016-06-20T16:25:39.743



It is grammatically valid, but potentially ambiguous. When I first read your sentence I took it has, "Facebook allows domains of the form ...", and then the three forms are NAME.i, Twitter, and NAME.lo. But "Twitter" doesn't look like a valid domain name, so I had to backup and re-read the sentence. If you had said "" than it would have looked like a valid domain, so the sentence would have been unclear.

The same could happen with a non-technical sentence. Yes, if you say, "Bob's favorite color is blue, Mary's green", clearly we mean that Bob's favorite color is blue and that Mary's favorite color is green. But suppose you wrote, "Colors that go well with blue are yellow, red, white, green, purple." Does that mean that yellow goes with blue, white goes with red, and purple goes with green? That all these colors go with blue? Or some other combination? The sentence is hopelessly ambiguous.


Posted 2016-06-20T12:04:17.400

Reputation: 51 729

Is it okay to put comma before the part being omitted? If you get rid of some of them in the "colors" sentence, it will stop being ambiguous, am I wrong? – x-yuri – 2016-06-20T20:09:08.923

2In a construction like, "My favorite color is blue, Tom's is red, Sally's green", you CAN but are not required to put a comma between "Sally's" and "green". Eliminating commas from my colors example might help but it would still be confusing. I'd add words, like, "Colors that go well with blue are yellow and red; white goes with green and purple". Sometimes leaving out words is good because it eliminates needless repletion, but other times it makes it confusing. You have to judge case by case. – Jay – 2016-06-21T04:18:27.987

I had a hard time choosing an answer to accept. Yours doesn't tell how to make first sentence more readable. That must be the only issue. Also, I wanted to add here, that there are some interesting comments and links under the question. – x-yuri – 2016-06-22T18:13:36.227


I would make it more conversational to be more readable.

Google Plus doesn’t allow non-public domains at all, while Facebook allows domains of the form NAME.l, and Twitter allows NAME.lo.

I like the color blue, Mary prefers red, Peter green, and John yellow.


Posted 2016-06-20T12:04:17.400

Reputation: 225

Comma after "Twitter allows" is not needed? Or maybe even is not supposed to be there? – x-yuri – 2016-06-20T17:56:20.287

I think not supposed to be there. Edited. – Jammin4CO – 2016-06-20T18:19:30.390