Whats An Ellipsis And How Do I Use It?
After talking about the use of the semicolon, comma, and apostrophe, let’s talk about another kind of punctuation today. Sadly overlooked and mostly used incorrectly: the ellipsis!
What Is An Ellipsis
Basically, an ellipsis (or more ellipses) consists of three dots. And these three dots make up a punctuation mark all on their own.
Ellipses are used in a few different form, however the version with three dots is the most common. Other varieties can be found in newspapers, works of fiction, or magazines as well.
Depending on the liking of an author or editor, the ellipsis can be accompanied by spaces or not.
- This pug…I like it.
- This pug … I like it.
- This pug… I like it.
- This pug …I like it.
In (1) there is no space at all, in (2) the ellipsis makes use of a space on each end, and in (3) and (4) there is a space either in front or after the ellipsis.
The most typical use of ellipses in printed and online media is the omission of parts of a quote. They save space and remove content that is, for the moment or purpose of the quote, not relevant.
- Full quotation: “In April, we, my beloved wife and I, decided to adopt a pug.“
- Ellipsis: “In April, we…decided to adopt a pug.“
The ellipsis can occur in the middle of a sentence, at the beginning or end, and even between sentences.
In many scientific works and papers, the omission is further indicated by putting the ellipsis into brackets.
- The Pug […] is a breed of dog with a wrinkly, short-muzzled face and curled tail.
- Source: Wikipedia
In less informal writing, ellipses can portray hesitation, thought, suspense, or a change of mood. This is especially common in direct speech, monologues, or writings from the point of view of a character in a novel or book.
- You know what? … We should get a pug!
- I… I don’t think this is… a good idea.
- What? But… You’re right! We should get two!
A form or usage of ellipsis that is far more common in social media, texting, or comics is to indicate speechlessness. Whether something shocked you, you simply don’t know what to reply, or whatever was said previously simply doesn’t deserve an answer or actual reply: go for the ellipsis.
- A: “Carina doesn’t like pugs.“
- B: “…“