Stylistic Devices of Omission
Figures of omission are based on incompleteness of sentence
Ellipsis consists in omission of some parts of the sentence that
are easily understood from the context or situation. In
colloquial style this omission simply makes the speech more
E.g. Where is he? – In the garden.
In literary descriptions it may give the construction an
additional expressive or emotional colouring.
E.g. The sea is but another sky,
The sky a sea as well… (Longfellow)
nominal sentences. They have no separate subject
and predicate but one main part instead. Nominal
sentences call attention to the subject named, to its
existence and even more to its interrelations with
other objects. The economy of the construction gives
a dynamic rhythm to the passage.
E.g. Nuclear tests in India and Pakistan. Terrorists
bombs in Kenya and Tanzania. (Vital Speeches)
Arctic blue eyes, black hair, ruddy cheeks,
unshaven chin. (V. Nabokov)
This is a deliberate omission of conjunctions or other
connectors between parts of the sentence. It may be used
in the description of group of events connected in time:
taking place simultaneously or in succession; in this case
the absence of the conjunction may correspond to the
meaning of the conjunction “and”. Asyndeton may also
express other logical connections between parts, thus
corresponding to various connectors (because, but,
whereas, if, etc.): “There΄s no use in talking to him, he̕s
perfectly idiotic!” said Alice desperately. (L. Carroll)
based on the economy of syntactical units.
E.g. She dropped a tear and her pocket handkerchief. (Dickens)
Zeugma is the use of a word in the same grammatical but
different semantic relations to two adjacent words in the
context, the semantic relations being on the one hand literal,
and on the other, transferred.
E.g. Dora, plunging at once into privileged intimacy and into
middle of the room. (B.Shaw).
To plunge (into middle of the room) –is used in its primary,
To plunge (into privileged intimacy) – is used in its transferred
sentence, as if from inability or unwillingness to proceed.
Aposiopesis is a stylistic syntactical device to convey to the
reader a very strong upsurge of emotions:
E.g. You just come home or I΄ll… (The implication is a
If you continue your intemperate way of living, in six
months time…(The implication is a warning).
Implications of aposiopesis are highly predictable. What is
implied sometimes outweighs what is expressed:
Good intentions but – (The implication here is that nothing
has come of what it was planned to accomplish).
of the sentence:
Inversion is a reversal of the normal order of words
in a sentence. By inversion is meant an unusual
order of words chosen for emphasis greater
expressiveness. It relates to the position of subject
and predicate: Hangs silently the boat. (Longfellow)
It may include the postposition of an adjective in an
attributive phrase: A passionate ballad gallant and
gay… (A.Tennyson). It may also refer to a change in
the standard position of all other members of the
sentence (Subject - Predicate - Object): At your feet
I fall. (Dryden)
device by which the less important part of the
message is in some way separated from the
main part, and the latter is given only at the
end of the sentence, so that the reader is kept in
E.g. “ Mankind”, says a Chinese manuscript,
which my friend was obliging enough to read
and explain to me, “for the first seventy
thousand ages ate their meat raw”.(Ch. Lamb)
Detached constructions are parts of the
sentence structures which are placed isolated
and seem formally independent from the words
they logically refer to. The detached part
assumes a greater degree of significance and is
given prominence by intonation.
E.g. Steyne rose up, grinding his teeth, pale, and
with fury in his eyes. (Thackeray)
“I want to go,” he said, miserable. (Galsworthy)
Parenthesis is a qualifying, explanatory or
appositive word, phrase, clause, sentence or other
sequence which interrupts a syntactic construction
without otherwise affecting it, having often a
characteristic intonation and indicated in writing by
commas, brackets or dashes.
E.g. Other people – I don΄t care who they are – just
don΄t seem to exist for you. (Dreiser)
For years now, Mrs. Cowperwood and I have been
–I will not say on bad terms, for that is not true –
but more or less estranged. (Dreiser)
Parcelling is a syntactical and logical break of
the sentence structure (to parcel = to divide
something into smaller parts).
E.g. I was waiting for you. Very long.
Parcelling is a structural separation, but a
semantic junction of two phrases:
I΄ve seen him. In the park.
The speaker aims to pay attention of the
listener to the location (In the park).
connection whereas parts of the sentence fit
semantically, but they do not correlate
E.g. Where a great poet named Tennyson,
anticipating Hollywood, had built up in the
studio of his mind, his come-into-the-garden,
Maud, the black bat night has flown;…(Sean
use of structural meaning. In these types of sentences the syntactical
formal meaning of the structure contradicts the actual meaning
implied so that questions do not require answers but are in fact
declarative sentences (rhetorical questions),etc.
Rhetorical questions have the form of an interrogative sentence, but
they contain a covert statement of the opposite: Who does not know
Shakespeare? = everybody knows. Rhetorical questions may express a
variety of modal shades of meaning as doubt, challenge, scorn and so
Quasi –interrogative sentences: Here you are to write down your age
and birthplace = How old are you? Where were you born?
Quasi-imperative sentences: Here! Quick! = Come here! Be quick!