Welcome to the ninth post in the series: Punctuation For Beginners.
Punctuation is the name for the marks we use in writing. Punctuation marks are tools that have set functions. We use them to give a sentence meaning and rhythm.
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Today, I will be writing about the ellipsis.
What is an ellipsis?
An ellipsis is a punctuation mark formed by three full stops: …
Definition from Oxford: ‘The omission from speech or writing of a word or words that are superfluous or able to be understood from contextual clues.’
Formatting an ellipsis
- You can insert a space on either side of an ellipsis, like this: I wish … I hope …
- You can also write it like this: I wish… I hope…
You can also format an ellipsis by placing spaces between the full stops like this: . . .
Whichever way you format it, the most important thing is to be consistent.
We use an ellipsis:
- To indicate that there are missing words in a sentence or quote. Example: He said… he would make a decision today.
- To indicates a pause, as an interrupted thought, in a sentence. Example: I think so… I’m not sure.
- To indicate trailing off a sentence in an intriguing manner. Example: I know, but what if…
Writing tip: Avoid using the ellipsis if you can. It can create unnecessary confusion.
‘I recently heard of someone studying the ellipsis (or three dots) for a PhD. And, I have to say, I was horrified. The ellipsis is the black hole of the punctuation universe, surely, into which no right-minded person would willingly be sucked, for three years, with no guarantee of a job at the end.’ ~Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
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