My FIRST post on the topic AWESOME WAYS TO RAISE YOUR GRADE IN ENGLISH @ HIGH SCHOOL focused on the COLON (:)and SEMI-COLON (;). The SECOND post concentrated on the use and misuse of the HYPHEN (-); and DASHES (-).
My THIRD post on this important topic is a short one on the uses of an ELLIPSIS (. . .) .
ELLIPSIS (. . .)
An ellipsis (plural: ellipses) is a punctuation mark consisting of three dots.
Uses of Ellipsis
Use an ellipsis when omitting a word, phrase, line, paragraph, or more from a quoted passage. Ellipses save space or remove material that is less relevant. They are useful in getting right to the point without delay or distraction:
- Full quotation: “Today, after hours of careful thought, we vetoed the bill.”
- With ellipsis: “Today … we vetoed the bill.” Did you notice the use of the quoted material?
Ellipsis can be used whether the omission occurs at the beginning of a sentence, in the middle of a sentence, or between sentences.
A common way to delete the beginning of a sentence is to follow the opening quotation mark with an ellipsis, plus a bracketed capital letter, eg:
- “… [A]fter hours of careful thought, we vetoed the bill.”
Other writers omit the ellipsis in such cases, feeling the bracketed capital letter gets the point across.
Informal Writing – Stories and novels use ellipses to a very different effect.
An ellipsis can demonstrate a pause in dialogue, a pause in narrative, or a character or a narrator trailing off.
- Pause in dialogue – He stammered “I’m not sure what to do . . . .”
- Pause in narrative or wavering in an otherwise straightforward sentence, eg: – He was without hope … desolate, empty … the epitome of a broken heart.
- Character or narrator expressing hesitation, changes of mood, suspense, or thoughts trailing off – Was the challenge too big to handle, or was it just growing into something else like …?
In quoted material – In almost any essay you write, you will have to incorporate quoted material. There are a lot of rules about using quoted material and punctuating this material correctly. An ellipsis [ … ] proves to be a handy device when you’re quoting material and you want to omit some words.
The MLA Handbook recommends using square brackets on either side of the ellipsis points to distinguish between an ellipsis that you’ve added and the ellipses that might have been in the original text. Such a bracketed ellipsis in a quotation would look like this:
- “Bohr […] used the analogy of parallel stairways […]” (Smith p55).
Other research manuals — the APA Publication Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style — do not address this use of bracketed ellipses.
Ellipses are most useful when working with quoted material. The ellipsis should be used in your quotations when you leave out some material from the original in your quote.
You will need to use some common sense and discretion in deciding when the omission is sufficient that the use of the ellipsis helps with understanding. It is not necessary to use it when quoting just a single word or phrase, especially in an embedded quote.
There could be other various methods of deploying ellipses; the ones described here are acceptable for most professional and scholarly work.
Good luck in your endeavours.
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