Varieties of Tacits
(from Quirk, et. al., A Comprehensive Grammar of
the English Language, 1987)
1. Exclamations (wh-element):
How quickly you eat!
- What a mess we're in!
- A: The Browns are emigrating. B: Emigrating?
- A: I'm going to London for a holiday. B: To London?
3. Irregular wh-questions:
- How about your parents?
- Why listen to him?
4. Subordinate clauses:
- To think that he could be so mean! - That it should
come to this!
- If only he were not so timid! - Now for a good bath!
5. Adverbials as directives:
- That way! - On with the show!
- On your feet! - Back to work!
- The sooner the better. - Waste not, want not.
- Here today, gone tomorrow. - Like father, like son.
7. Subject plus complements:
- Not bad, that salmon.
- Just our luck, Sue finding out.
8. Block language (labels, titles, notices):
- No entry - No dogs without leashes
- Fresh today - All the news that's fit to print
- Oil Spill Threat Decreasing - British Victory Surprises
- Woman Claims Drug Caused Cancer, Sues
10. Letters, cables, diaries:
- Having a wonderful time!
- Sorry about Jane!
- Cook to golden brown. - Refrigerate after opening.
- Keep away from heat. - Open other end.
12. Abbreviated sentences:
- Want another cup? - Anything wrong?
- Serves them right! - First lap over. Five more to
13. Elliptical dialogue:
- A: Who sent you? B: The manager.
- A: When will you leave? B: With luck, on Friday.
- Good idea! - You and your statistics!
- Hot or cold? - One step more and I'll shoot.
a. Greetings: - Evening! - Good morning to you!
b. Farewells: - All the best! - See you later!
c. Thanks: - Thanks a lot. - Appreciate it!
d. Reactions: - Yeah, OK. - No problem!
e. Toasts: - Here's to you! - Good health!
f. Alarms: - Fire! - Help!
g. Warnings: - Watch out! - Be careful!
h. Apologies: - Sorry!- My mistake!
i. Responses: - No matter. - Never mind.
j. Congratulations: - Well done! - Congratulations!
k. Introductions: - Joan, my sister. - John, a good
friend of mine.
l. Anger/dismissal: - Get lost! - Bugger off!
m. Expletives: - Good lord! - Damn it!.
n. Miscellaneous: - Well, I'll be! - Nothing doing!
16. Ellipsis: grammatical or semantic omission,
usually but not always recoverable:
a. nouns: - My camera, like Peter's, is Japanese.
b. adj. & noun heads: - Helen is the older girl,
but Julie the taller.
c. modifiers: - Her second novel was different from
d. medial: - A bird in the hand is worth two in the
- That letter was the last I ever received from her.
e. finite clauses: - I'm happy if you are.
- His father was at Oxford when Harold Wilson was.
f. do-operators: - Rupert wanted to attend the bullfight,
although his wife didn't.
- I don't like living in the country. Do you?
g. predicates: - Nigel finished the exam at the same
time as George.
- Nigel finished the exam first, then George.
h. wh-clauses: - We're bound to win the prize someday.
- Somebody has hidden my book, but I don't know who/why/where.
i. to-infinitives: - I won't disturb you again unless
I have to.
- She borrowed my pen, although I told her not to.
j. entire clauses: - You can borrow my pen if you
- Somebody out to help. Shall I ask Peter?
k. nonfinite/verbless: - Although exhausted, he continued
- Whether right or wrong, the government always wins.
l. appended: o I caught the bus--just!
- The train arrived on time, for a change.
- It was nice of him to call, wasn't it?
(from Celce-Murcia & Larsen-Freeman, The Grammar
Book: an ESL/EFL Teacher's Course, 1983)
a. auxiliary deleted: - You going to the movies?
- You know Fred Callaghan?
b. imperatives: - Leave the room!
- Don't be late!
c. auxiliary in wh-questions: - Where you been hiding?
- What you doing?
d. prepositions of time: - We have lived here 12 years.
- He went surfing Saturday.
e. parallel structure: - Mary ate an apple and Joe
- Mike is a lawyer and Ken a teacher.
f. reduction of relative clause: - The curry I cooked
was too hot.
- The ice skater in the show looks familiar.
g. relative adverb: - The reason I voted "no"
was my opposition to the project.
- I remember the time I tried to make a souffle.
h. indirect speech: - John said he would buy that
car the following day.
a. head sentence: - He went back home after school,
- You can fax it to my home today or to my office Monday.
b. subjunctive & be-verb: - He looked away as
- He looked like before.
c. verbs compared/subject omitted: - He studied harder
- She succeeded more than expected.
d. subject raising, delete be-verb: - I found their
- I didn't think it particularly exciting.
e. relative pronoun & be-verb: - There are topics
not suitable for children.
- She has a daughter still living at home.
f. modality conjecting/verb deleted: - Why bother
going all the way home?
- I wouldn't if I were you.
g. noun determiner: - There were some left behind.
- Have you seen any lately?
h. participial conjunction/with deleted & accompanying
- She woke up in the morning, her pillow wet with tears.
- He left home in the morning, a newspaper under his
i. contrasting objects: - Jim wondered if they would
finish, but Sheila didn't.
- I depended on you more than Roger.