Welcome to the ninth post in the series: Punctuation For Beginners. This post is all about the ellipsis.
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.
These are the most common punctuation marks:
- The Full Stop
- The Comma
- The Question Mark
- The Exclamation Mark
- The Semicolon
- The Colon
- The Hyphen
- The Em Dash
- The Bracket or Parenthesis
- The Inverted Comma/Quotation Mark
- The Ellipsis
- The Bullet Point
- The Apostrophe
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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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