Monday, 6 April 2015

E is for Ellipsis

An Ellipsis (Ellipses: plural) is a set of three periods (…) written to indicate that something has been omitted.

·         In fiction, it is used to indicate hesitation or a deliberate trailing off while talking.

Example:  “When I told you that I wanted to go, I actually was trying to tell you…,” said Riya, biting her lower lip.

Here the speaker is clearly hesitating to state what she wants to say. An ellipsis comes handy then.

But using too many ellipses in a single sentence doesn’t serve the point.
Example:  “I want … you know… I don’t know …,” murmered Avinash.
It is often misused this way and instead of helping, it reduces the quality of writing.

·        In non-fiction writing, it is used to reduce the size of a quote or a dialogue keeping its meaning the same.
Example: “ I can’t believe this just happened. Everything was normal and then things started happening all of a sudden. The ground trembled and house started to fall down like card castles. The earthquake was so utterly devastating.”
This quote told by a witness during an earthquake can be shortened for use in a newspaper, thus:
““I can’t believe this just happened. … The earthquake was so utterly devastating.”

1.       While using an ellipsis the rule is to treat it like a three letter word.
2.       Use commas, spaces and exclamation marks according to the tone of the sentence considering it like any other word.
3.       Most grammar tools insist on using a space before and after inserting an ellipsis.
4.       Do not use an ellipsis to indicate a short pause in the conversation. Use a comma or period instead.
5.       When using ellipsis at the end of a sentence put a period after it. So it will be a group of four periods.
Example: I am surprised ….

This post is a part of the APRIL A-Z Challenge  


  1. Very useful tips for writers grappling with grammatically correct sentences :)

  2. I'm learning something here! :) Thank you. Not good at punctuation at all. Very wonderful delivery, you have made it seem easy. :)

  3. Interesting, I didn't know that. We learn something new everyday.

  4. Looks like I'm using the ellipse incorrectly in my A to Z titles. Must go change them immediately.
    The View from the Top of the Ladder


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