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Friday, April 5, 2013

Wordworking: E is for ... (no really)

Which way do you write an ellipsis? I found various opinions on the matter. Grammar Girl says to put a space in between each ellipsis point and always a a space on each side no matter the punctuation. So, if a sentence ends with a period and then the ellipsis it gets, 4 dots total. . . .
Ellipsis point .
Ellipsis . . .
Ellipses . . .  . . .  . . .

For examples I'm using POISON by Bridget Zinn (my favorite 2013 published read).
On the first page I opened to (90-91) I found 3 uses of ellipses.

1. Ellipses can also show hesitation
In dialogue:
"The witch squinted at Kyra's midsection. 'Well . . . what a nice surprise: a spark.'" (I love this one because it also uses a colon *happy dance*)
Not in dialogue:
"It smelled like . . . herbs, fresh-picked, but with an undertone of something else, something powerful and scary."

2. Ellipses can show trailing off in dialogue (leaving something unsaid).
"'And finally . . .' Out came a flat glass disk." (no space between last ellipsis point and quotation marks)

3. Ellipsis show omission, such as to shorten a quotation. 
"Kyra followed, considering her options. She had no idea how to unfreeze her upper body. . . . Possibly the witch would either have to lose interest or die before the spell would evaporate."
"She spied Fred . . . sitting at a rough-hewn table . . ."

Do you use ellipses in writing? Did Grammar Girl get it right? Have you read POISON?


  1. Hee hee I'm first to comment today! Yay for me!

    I have an ongoing love affair with the ellipses. I used to use them so much a critter once said, what is with all the ellipses?? And so I had to change me sordid ways. Now I use them sparingly ... but I just love the pause they offer. :)

  2. Ellipses are my favourite form of punctuation, and I use the Grammar Girl Method. POISON sounds fascinating, I'm looking it up on GoodReads now. :D

    1. Isn't Grammar Girl marvelous? I hope you enjoy POISON:D

  3. I use ellipses when typing all the time. I just love them...
    Dani @ Entertaining Interests

  4. I love ellipses way to often. I think because I talk that way ... with stops and starts and pauses. I've been told that how we use them can depend on the editor.

    Great post. Don't you just love A to Z?

  5. I do use ellipses and in just the way you describe :)

  6. I'm pretty sure that I've been using them wrong for years and years! Thank goodness for editors, right?

  7. I think I'm an ellipses ho, cause I use them all the time... (see, I did it again)

    1. You seriously crap me up-on your blog and commenting on mine. You are a golden ho grammar queen-lol

  8. It's kind of like the em-dash for me. I don't really know how to use it but it doesn't stop me from using it all the time, lol. I just recently learned about the spacing thing, though. So embarrassing.

  9. I love ellipses, but do try to use them sparingly... ;)

    I haven't read Poison yet, but it's sitting on my shelf right now. Can't wait until I have time to pick it up!

  10. I maybe use ellipses a little too much...

  11. I use ellipses. I'm pretty sure no space goes between the points, though, and many word processing programs will auto-correct it for you if you do put spaces in. There was probably a time when the space was used, but, like the double space after a period, that time has gone away.

    As for the period, I am not for that, although a lot of people say to do it. The ellipsis is the punctuation mark, and ending a sentence with multiple pieces of punctuation (like a "?" and "!") is usually frowned upon. Since that particular thing is a matter of debate (no hard rule for it), I choose to leave it three points and only use an ellipsis with another piece of punctuation when I need a "?" after it.

    What I hate is when people use dashes when they should be using an ellipsis.

  12. I'm an ellipses whore. I'm sure my editor loves that, ha!

  13. I love ellipses and use them as necessary, but one correction: since ellipses are used to show a trailing off, if it comes at the end of a sentence, only use the 3, not four. That would defeat the purpose.