This week: The Many Lives of the EllipsesEdited by: Reader? Check out 2233315
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Could you also please advise on the grammar regarding "..." (indicating a pause or etc. as per my understanding). When is it apt to use it in a dialogue? How to punctuate a sentence containing "..." at the end? -
An ellipsis consists of exactly three dots—never two dots, never four dots—just three dots. I know you've likely seen many people use an obscene amount of dots in the hope of creating suspense or anticipation. However, it just makes you look uneducated. Some call them periods but the proper name is ellipsis points. Each point or dot should have a single space on either side, except when adjacent to a quotation mark, in which case there should be no space. Some word processors have a half-space or an ellipsis mark that spaces the mark for you. The ellipsis is typically standing in for a word or a sentence, so just imagine that it's a word itself, and then it's easy to remember to put a space on each side.
"Ellipsis marks trade on the value of innuendo, scandal, and sensation," punctuation historian Anne Toner writes in her study Ellipsis in English Literature: Signs of Omission.
In formal writing, the most common use for an ellipsis is showing that you’ve omitted words or sentences. For example, if you're quoting someone and you want to shorten the quote for any reason, you can use ellipses to indicate where you've dropped words or sentences. If you're omitting something after a complete sentence, meaning that your ellipsis has to follow a period, put the punctuation at the end of the sentence just like you normally would then type a space, and then insert your ellipsis. Again, remember, you're using the ellipsis as if it were a word or multiple words: the first word[s] of the next sentence. This will result in four dots in a row with spaces between each dot, but don't be fooled, this is not a four-dot ellipsis—there's no such thing. It is a period followed by a regular three-dot ellipsis.
Many writers will agree, In informal writing, an ellipsis can be used to represent a trailing off of thought.
If only he had . . . Oh, I guess it doesn’t matter now.
Before you say it, yes, The Chicago Manual of Style states, “Ellipsis points suggest faltering or fragmented speech accompanied by confusion, insecurity, distress, or uncertainty.” It also mentioned ellipses with dashes, which it states should be reserved for more confident and decisive pauses. Although it is acceptable, please remember to use this form of punctuation sparingly. In certain contexts—say, fiction or screenplays—it may be common to indicate interrupted dialogue with an ellipsis. However, in most formal writing, the em dash is preferred.
“Yes, that’s true, but …”
“Yes, that’s true, but—”
I have also seen the ellipsis used to indicate hesitation, though in this case this punctuation is more accurately described as suspension points.
I wasn’t really . . . well, what I mean . . . see, the thing is . . . I didn’t mean it.
Sadly, like the exclamation point, the ellipsis is at risk of overuse. Don't be that writer.
Speaking of exclamation points, how do you use Ellipses with terminal points? (Terminal points are the question mark, period, and the exclamation point.)
“Where does the ellipsis go? . . . Why did we use it again?” [When words/sentences are removed between the two sentences]
“Where did the question mark go . . . ? Why did we use it again?” [In this one, words/sentences are removed before the first question mark. Note the space between the last ellipsis point and the question mark.]
Treat exclamation points as you would question marks.
In summation, it's best to use ellipses sparingly to indicate faltering speech or hesitation or even thoughts, and primarily, using them to shorten long quotations when necessary. Above all, always make sure you never change the meaning of any quoted material.
Please keep in mind, special circumstances apply to legal paperwork.
Failure to use the proper form of an ellipsis could misrepresent the work of another person and result in legal liability for the writer. Correct use of ellipses, on the other hand, shows that the writer has carefully attended to detail, and thus increases the reader's confidence in the reliability of the written work.- KentLaw.edu
Hope you found this helpful.
Write and Review on! ~ Brooke
"An illustrated guide to the punctuation marks known as parentheses and ellipses, including descriptions and examples of how to properly use them."
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I received some wonderful feedback to my last newsletter [#8184] "Effective Dialogue is an Art" and I'm proud to share it with you.
Thank you so much for this. I found it very helpful. Could you also please advise on the grammar regarding "..." (indicating a pause or etc. as per my understanding). When is it apt to use it in a dialogue? How to punctuate a sentence containing "..." at the end?
I'd be happy to. I'm glad you wrote in. It gave me a great topic for this month's editorial. Thank you!
These are some interesting advice about how to not render a dialogue annoyed and redundant.Indeed this is an art to do so.To add some expressions and descriptions render a dialogue more attractive.Example: He was very sad and had an anxious glance when his brother told him:"I have to leave".
This is very true. Great example. Thanks for writing in.
From Marie A. DiMauro
Thank you for this wonderful critique :)
I'm glad you found the editorial useful. Thank you for writing in and sharing your thoughts.
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