While verb phrase ellipsis (VPE) is well-studied theoretically and psycholinguistically, it remains unclear why speakers use ellipsis at all. We present an acceptability rating and a self-paced reading study that show that the uniform information density hypothesis (Jaeger & Levy 2007) is adequate to explain encoding preferences: By using VPE speakers avoid troughs in the information density profile. They are the more likely to use a VPE instead of the corresponding redundant full form the longer this full form would be. This is reflected in degraded ratings and faster readings times for the longer full forms.
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