I use ellipses often and usually not for any of the reasons I’m going to give you. I’m just lazy. I don’t want to press the shift key and make an upper case letter. Nor do I want to check for nouns and verbs and if I have everything in agreement. I just want to get my thoughts down, quickly and efficiently without all the fluffy stuff in between. I hope people understand they are reading a summary of my thoughts or of an event.
I red-inked someone earlier this week about ellipses formatting, and I need to apologize, for I have since learned (five minutes ago), that it is perfectly fine to have spaces between the dots.
So your copy should be “Quote quote quote quote . . . quote quote quote.”
In other words, space dot space dot space dot space.
If you end your quote with an ellipses, you don’t need a terminating period, but if you have a exclamation mark or question mark, leave a space.
“Quote quote quote quote . . . !”
Also, "Quote quote quote ... quote quote quote" is correct.
That is, space dot dot dot space.
Now, the reasons for ellipses and how to use them.
1. Omission Ellipses
If you wish to quote someone, but want to shorten the quote, use ellipses.
The following is an excerpt from How Green Was My Valley, one of my favourite novels and movies, by Richard Llewellyn.
Hens have a funny smell with them, one that comes, I think, from their feathers, just as a man will have his own smell about him. That smell of hens is one of the homeliest smells it is possible to put your nose to.
An abbreviated version:
Hens have a funny smell with them . . . one of the homeliest smells it is possible to put your nose to.
It doesn’t change the meaning or the essence; it makes a desired point.
Be very careful NOT to change the meaning.
Things were very rough in those days. There were no houses built for the men and married people were forced to live in barns and old sheds until enough houses were built. There was a lot of money made over houses, too. My father was paying rent on this one for more than twenty years before he bought it outright. I’m glad he did, because if he had not, my mother would have had nowhere these past few years.
Now an abbreviated version.
Things were very rough . . . no houses . . . barns . . . old sheds . . . nowhere . . .
This reminds me of proof-texting. Several words are “lifted” from a verse and a meaning extrapolated from those few words, which could be very different from the intended meaning.
It also reminds me of the media choosing words to fit an agenda, leaving out vast amounts of “what was REALLY said.”
Don’t manipulate your text, then, if you are writing a formal essay or quoting in fiction this way. Integrity is ESSENTIAL.
2. The Email Ellipses (or letter or dialogue)
Ellipses can be used to show a falter in dialogue, a pause, time passage, unfinished list, or that the speaker has left something unsaid, or simply trailed off.
I have too much to do today: drop the kids off at soccer, go to Bible study, shop for groceries, go to Katie’s dance recital, make a cake for Suzie’s birthday, pay bills, write my Challenge story . . .
I think the poor speaker may have expired from reciting her to-do list.
People (me) who do this a lot, shouldn’t. Always use moderation.
The Chicago Manual of Style states, “Ellipsis points suggest faltering or fragmented speech accompanied by confusion, insecurity, distress, or uncertainty.”
3. Comic Strip Ellipses.
Charles Schultz used ellipses often in his comic strip “Peanuts.” It meant “more is to come.”
Write several sentences, as if from dialogue or an email, showing how’d you use ellipses effectively to show an “emotion.”
Find an excerpt. Then use ellipses to summarize, without changing the meaning of the passage. Then simply by using ellipses, change the meaning, so that your abbreviated version means something entirely different from the original passage.
Last edited by Anja
on Fri May 28, 2010 3:43 pm, edited 7 times in total.
"What remains of a story after it is finished? Another story..." Eli Wiesel