Dot-dot-dot (2): when to type an ellipsis

My post on Tuesday (26 October) was about how to type an ellipsis; this one goes into a wee bit more detail about when you should do so. I’ve lifted the following straight from Wikipedia, mainly to save time but also because I love the following phrase: “the ellipsis can also inspire a feeling of melancholy longing”. Sigh….

Ellipsis (plural ellipses; from the Greek: ἔλλειψις, élleipsis, “omission”) is a mark or series of marks that usually indicate an intentional omission of a word in the original text. An ellipsis can also be used to indicate a pause in speech, an unfinished thought, or, at the end of a sentence, a trailing off into silence (aposiopesis) (apostrophe and ellipsis mixed). When placed at the end of a sentence, the ellipsis can also inspire a feeling of melancholy longing.

The ellipsis calls for a slight pause in speech. The most common form of an ellipsis is a row of three periods or full stops (…) or pre-composed triple-dot glyph (…). The usage of the em dash (—) can overlap the usage of the ellipsis. The triple-dot punctuation mark is also called a suspension point, points of ellipsis, periods of ellipsis, or colloquially, dot-dot-dot.

If you’ve got time, check out Wikipedia’s ellipsis page — it’s packed with information. Including the use of the ellipsis in other languages, in Maths and in programming. The right-hand sidebar has a really tempting list of other punctuation links but DO NOT GO THERE if you want to get any work done for the rest of the day.

By Marian Dougan

4 responses

  1. When I read postings like this I smile, enjoy and …….(is that too many?) reflect.
    Feels comfortable.

    I love the use of the dash, too – a wonderful way to introduce new or supportive information to a flow of text, or to round off a sentence, factually.

    You are right. Punctuation is good fun.

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