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Basic Tenets



Basic Tenets of The Elliott Wave Theory

Motive Waves

Corrective Waves

Guidelines of Wave Formation

The Fibonacci Sequence and Its Application






Motive waves subdivide into five waves with certain characteristics and always move in the same direction as the trend of one larger degree. They are straightforward and relatively easy to recognize and interpret.

Within motive waves, wave 2 never retraces more than 100% of wave 1, and wave 4 never retraces more than 100% of wave 3. Wave 3, moreover, always travels beyond the end of wave 1. The goal of an impulse is to make progress, and these rules of formation assure that it will.

Elliott further discovered that in price terms, wave 3 is often the longest and never the shortest among waves 1, 3 and 5. As long as wave 3 undergoes a greater percentage movement than either wave 1 or 5, this rule is satisfied. It almost always holds on an arithmetic basis as well. There are two types of motive waves: impulses and diagonal triangles.


The most common motive wave is an impulse. In an impulse, wave 4 does not enter the territory of (i.e., “overlap”) wave 1. This rule holds for all non-leveraged cash basis markets. Futures markets, with their extreme leverage, can induce short term price extremes that would not occur in cash markets. Even so, overlapping is usually confined to daily and intraday price fluctuations and even then is extremely rare. In addition, the actionary subwaves (1, 3 and 5) of an impulse are themselves motive, and subwave 3 is specifically an impulse.  Figures 2, 3 and 4 all depict impulses in the 1, 3, 5, A and C wave positions.

As detailed in the preceding four paragraphs, there are only a few simple rules for interpreting impulses properly. A rule is so called because it governs all waves to which it applies. Typical, yet not inevitable, characteristics of waves are called guidelines, which are discussed in an upcoming section. A rule should never be disregarded. In many years of practice with countless patterns, the authors have found but one instance above Subminuette degree when all other rules and guidelines combined to suggest that a rule was broken. Analysts who routinely break any of the rules detailed in this section are practicing some form of analysis other than that guided by the Wave Principle. These rules have great practical utility in correct counting, which we will explore further in discussing extensions.

Figure 4 


Most impulses contain what Elliott called an extension. Extensions are elongated impulses with exaggerated subdivisions. The vast majority of impulse waves do contain an extension in one and only one of their three impulsive subwaves (1, 3 or 5). The diagrams in Figure 4, illustrating extensions, will clarify this point.

Often the third wave of an extended third wave is an extension, producing a profile such as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5



A truncated fifth wave does not move beyond the end of the third. It can usually be verified by noting that the presumed fifth wave contains the necessary five subwaves, as illustrated in Figures 6 and 7.

Truncation gives warning of underlying weakness or strength in the market. In application, a truncated fifth wave will often cut short an expected target. This annoyance is counterbalanced by its clear implications for persistence in the new direction of trend.

Figure 6

Figure 7



A diagonal triangle is an impulsive pattern, yet not an impulse, as it has one or two corrective characteristics. Diagonal triangles substitute for impulses at specific locations in the wave structure. They are the only five-wave structures in the direction of the main trend within which wave four almost always moves into the price territory of (i.e., overlaps) wave one. On rare occasions, a diagonal triangle may end in a truncation, although in our experience, such truncations occur only by the slimmest of margins.

Ending Diagonal

An ending diagonal is a special type of wave that occurs primarily in the fifth wave position at times when the preceding move has gone "too far too fast," as Elliott put it. A very small percentage of ending diagonals appear in the C wave position of A-B- C formations. In double or triple threes (see next section), they appear only as the final "C" wave. In all cases, they are found at the termination points of larger patterns, indicating exhaustion of the larger movement.

Ending diagonals take a wedge shape within two converging lines, with each subwave, including waves 1, 3 and 5, subdividing into a "three," which is otherwise a corrective wave phenomenon. The ending diagonal is illustrated in Figures 8 and 9 and shown in its typical position in larger impulse waves.

Figure 8

Figure 9


Figure 10

Leading Diagonal

When diagonal triangles occur in the fifth or C wave position, they take the 3-3-3-3-3 shape that Elliott described. However, it has recently come to light that a variation on this pattern occasionally appears in the first wave position of impulses and in the A wave position of zigzags. The characteristic overlapping of waves one and four and the convergence of boundary lines into a wedge shape remain as in the ending diagonal triangle. However, the subdivisions are different, tracing out a 5-3-55-3-5-3-5 pattern. The structure of this formation (see Figure 10) does fit the spirit of the Wave Principle in that the five-wave subdivisions in the direction of the larger trend communicate a "continuation" message as opposed to the "termination" implication of the three-wave subdivisions in the ending diagonal. This pattern must be noted because the analyst could mistake it for a far more common development, a series of first and second waves, as illustrated in Figure 5.

The main key to recognizing this pattern is the decided slowing of momentum in the fifth subwave relative to the third. By contrast, in developing first and second waves, phenomena such as short term speed of movement and breadth (i.e., the number of stocks or subindexes participating) often expands.

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