It’s been awhile since we chatted about punctuation (you remember that pesky one space rule, right? and my deep and abiding love of parentheses (unless I’m at work)? oh, and my confusion over em-dashes?).
While parentheses will always hold a special place in my heart (as if that last paragraph didn’t give you a clue), I also love me some ellipses. Or is that ellipsi? Oh wait…it’s ellipses (thank you, google). Evidently, the word derives from Ancient Greek, for “falling short.” Hah! Isn’t that appropriate. I forever fall short when it comes to punctuation and grammar. I pretty much make up the rules as I go along, and I don’t care. Or, if I do care? I find a way around it by using another word/punctuation mark. But it’s gotta be obvious that when it comes to parentheses and ellipses, anything goes around here.
However, I was kinda curious as to what is considered proper when it comes to those cute little dots.
Here’s what wikipedia has to say:
Ellipsis (plural ellipses; from the Ancient Greek: ἔλλειψις, élleipsis, “omission” or “falling short“) 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). 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 a 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.
A few reactions:
- Why did they have to bring up the em-dash?? Don’t they know I still haven’t figured that sneaky bastard out?
- Melancholy longing, huh? In my case, it’s more like I need some time to think of what to say next.
- Aposiopesis is a cool word. It’s a bitch to spell, though. Dot-dot-dot is SO much easier.
And speaking of aposiopesis…I need to learn this in real life. When I talk, I tend to fill my pauses (and there are lots of them) with the dreaded UMMMMMMM. Gah! I hate this word, but talk about a hard habit to break! Maybe I should just say dot-dot-dot, instead? Whaddya think?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Of course, there’s more to the ellipses than just three dots. There’s the whole matter of how to type those three dots. Seriously. Let’s check in with ye olde wikipedia again:
The Chicago Manual of Style suggests the use of an ellipsis for any omitted word, phrase, line, or paragraph from within a quoted passage. There are two commonly used methods of using ellipses: one uses three dots for any omission, while the second one makes a distinction between omissions within a sentence (using three dots: . . .) and omissions between sentences (using a period and a space followed by three dots: . …). An ellipsis at the end of a sentence with no sentence following should be followed by a period (for a total of four dots). The Modern Language Association (MLA), however, used to indicate that an ellipsis must include spaces before and after each dot in all uses. If an ellipsis is meant to represent an omission, square brackets must surround the ellipsis to make it clear that there was no pause in the original quote: [ . . . ]. Currently, the MLA has removed the requirement of brackets in its style handbooks. However, some maintain that the use of brackets is still correct because it clears confusion.
You have got to be kidding me. And okay, that sentence originally had a bad word in there (between the be and kidding, and yes, it started with an f).
This is where I draw the line. My ellipses will always look like this:
Why? Well, . . . takes more effort, and honestly it just isn’t as cute as …
Not to mention if you start adding periods you’re in danger of hellipses: