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Ellipses . . .

Back to the basics with regular Challenge winner, Ann Grover. Weekly lessons to help you hone your basic writing skills.

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Anja
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Ellipses . . .

Postby Anja » Fri May 28, 2010 1:55 pm

Ellipses

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.”



HOMEWORK.

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.
Ann Grover

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Postby Keleitha » Fri May 28, 2010 3:18 pm

I'll give it a shot.

<i>Matt shook his head. ‘No they haven’t. Over the past twelve months she’s become more and more withdrawn, and now...’ </i>

<i>“I know. I’m trying; I am honestly. It’s just...”</i>

I'm assuming ellipses can also be used where one character is saying something and another butts in or completes the sentence, for example:

<i> “Who’s that chasing her? It looks like...”
“Yes, it’s Quintraine.” </i>

I'm too tired to find an excerpt at the moment, it's 4:30AM and my eyes have finally decided they can't stay open any longer.
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Postby Anja » Fri May 28, 2010 3:34 pm

Good job, Lynne. I look forward to reading your abbreviated excerpt, too.

And, yes, you are correct regarding an interruption in dialogue.
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Postby glorybee » Fri May 28, 2010 3:55 pm

Ann, I learned somthing from this lesson! I didn't know you could put spaces in ellipses.

Do you have to? Or is either way acceptable?

I've dinged people for putting spaces before and after ... like this. Is that wrong, or right, or does it not particularly matter?
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Postby Anja » Fri May 28, 2010 7:06 pm

I found out that either way is acceptable, Jan. Either ( ... ) or ( . . . )

I believed (...) with NO spaces was correct, also, and that it was the ONLY way. It was a surprise to me that the other two were correct.

I couldn't find any references for (...). Maybe someone else will?

I do humbly apologize to the person I dinged.

I need to learn, too.
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Postby pheeweed » Fri May 28, 2010 7:31 pm

"I used to love that song. But ever since he left, I just can't..."

"When people talk politics on FaceBook, it makes me want to... Never mind."

From The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis:

"I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now."

"I have come home at last ... I belong here."

"I have ... my real country ... though I never knew it ..."

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Postby Keleitha » Fri May 28, 2010 8:44 pm

I'm awake now :sleep

Here is my "excerpt"

She let her ears lead her, turning her head slightly. The sound came from the top of her desk. She pushed over a neat stack of padded envelopes. She always had padded envelopes on her desk—fabric samples, videos of her television ads, samples of paints, finishes and more. It was part of being America’s interior design diva.

She let her ears lead her, turning her head slightly. The sound came from the top of her desk. She pushed over a neat stack of padded envelopes. She always had padded envelopes on her desk… It was part of being America’s interior design diva. (from <i>Finders Fee</i> by Anton Gansky)
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Postby Anja » Fri May 28, 2010 8:54 pm

pheeweed wrote:"I used to love that song. But ever since he left, I just can't..."

"When people talk politics on FaceBook, it makes me want to... Never mind."

From The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis:

"I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now."

"I have come home at last ... I belong here."

"I have ... my real country ... though I never knew it ..."

Phee


This is great. Just don't forget the space before AND after the ellipses. ( ... )
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Postby Anja » Fri May 28, 2010 8:57 pm

Keleitha wrote:She let her ears lead her, turning her head slightly. The sound came from the top of her desk. She pushed over a neat stack of padded envelopes. She always had padded envelopes on her desk… It was part of being America’s interior design diva. (from <i>Finders Fee</i> by Anton Gansky)


Great, Lynne, but don't forget the space before the dot dot dot.

To create an italicized title on the forums, use [] instead of <> ... different from the Challenge.
Ann Grover

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Postby Amanda1991 » Mon May 31, 2010 10:12 pm

I'm sure that the red-inked person forgives you. None of us are perfect after all . . . ;)

Here are a few sentences:

"I was going to do the laundry, really. But then Tammy came over and told me about her new job, and next thing I knew she was pulling me out the door to talk about it over lunch, and then Georgia showed up to join us . . ."

~~~~~~

"Did you know that I love comic strips? I never get tired of 'em! I could spend hours reading Garfield, Peanuts, Fox Trot, Zitz . . ."



I use ellipses to shorten quotes all the time, so it won't take me long to dig one up. Be right back . . .
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Postby swfdoc1 » Mon May 31, 2010 10:49 pm

Anja wrote:I couldn't find any references for (...). Maybe someone else will?


This linkrepresents my take on ellipses and is exactly what I taught for 10 years to law students (even though I did not then know of this page). This page is from someone else who teaches law students, but the rules given here are not unique to law. I am familiar with lots of grammars and style guides and what is given in the above link is fairly standard although usage is not 100% uniform. Also, many grammars and style guides are not as detailed as the linked page. Furthermore, the above page refers ONLY to omission ellipses (your original item 1, Ann). In that context, an example of non-uniform rules is that the MLA requires that the ellipses be in brackets to distinguish original ellipses from ellipses you added. But most other guides are silent on this or have you add a parenthetical to your footnote. For example, "(First and third ellipses added; second ellipses original.)"

In my opinion, the reason we are seeing so many people use ellipses without the spaces despite almost every grammar and style guide still calling for spaces is because this is the preference in web publishing and because many word processors use this as the default with the autocomplete and autocorrect features and many people to think to or know to override the defaults.

Also, I think that rules for ellipses evolve more than for other punctuation marks—although I think the rules for dashes are also being impacted by web publishing and word processors. So for example, what is listed as incorrect in rule 3 of the linked page was actually practiced by at least some large publishing houses in the US not that many decades ago. It’s amazing how often you still see it, but it is no longer considered correct.

An interesting point for Challenge entries is that ellipses without the spaces gets counted as one word, whereas ellipses with the spaces gets counted as three words by word processing word counters. So if you had, for example, 5 ellipses in an entry, the word counter will count that as 5 words without spaces and 15 words with spaces. Because our entries are published on the web, because ellipses can impact word count so much, and because almost all entries I had read were using ellipses without spaces, I adopted that approach when I started entering the Challenge when I needed to for word count. However, going by memory, I used spaces when my word count was not an issue. If so, I couldn't care less about being dinged. I would assume no one else does either.
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Postby Amanda1991 » Mon May 31, 2010 11:01 pm

"Obstinancy and self-will will always stab Jesus Christ. It may hurt no one else, but it wounds His Spirit. Whenever we are obstinate and self-willed and set upon our own ambitions, we are hurting Jesus. Every time we stand on our rights and insist that this is what we intend to do, we are persecuting Jesus. Whenever we stand on our dignity we systematically vex and grieve His Spirit; and when the knowledge comes home that it is Jesus Whom we have been persecuting all the time, it is the most crushing revelation there could be."

Shortened version:

"Obstinancy and self-will will always stab Jesus Christ. It may hurt no one else, but it wounds His Spirit. Whenever we are obstinate and self-willed and set upon our own ambitions, we are hurting Jesus . . . and when the knowledge comes home that it is Jesus Whom we have been persecuting all the time, it is the most crushing revelation there could be."

Incorrect usage of shortening quotes:

"Obstinancy and self will . . . may hurt no one . . . Every time we stand on our rights . . . it is the most crushing revelation there could be."

*Excerpt from Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest*
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Postby Pat » Mon May 31, 2010 11:16 pm

glorybee wrote:Ann, I learned somthing from this lesson! I didn't know you could put spaces in ellipses.

Do you have to? Or is either way acceptable?

I've dinged people for putting spaces before and after ... like this. Is that wrong, or right, or does it not particularly matter?


Jan, I have found that ellipses are in the eye of the editor. When I did some research on this several months ago, I came across a few different ways to 'correctly' use them.

It depends on what the editor accepts.

BUT, I almost didn't read this because I was sooo afraid Ann was going to tell us not to use them very much!

I LOVE the Ellipsis!

PS. Oh, and you've dinged me for the 'spacey' one. (space before and after three dots) I switched to that one because it was supposed to be the more widely accepted.

I prefer the other spacey one because I feel it adds ( . . . ) more drama.

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Postby Anja » Tue Jun 01, 2010 12:17 am

Pat wrote:
BUT, I almost didn't read this because I was sooo afraid Ann was going to tell us not to use them very much!

I LOVE the Ellipsis!


I love them, too... and use them ALL the time... and apparently incorrectly.

Sigh.

I'll have to take a look at the link posted.
Ann Grover

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Postby Pat » Tue Jun 01, 2010 8:44 am

Anja wrote:
Pat wrote:
BUT, I almost didn't read this because I was sooo afraid Ann was going to tell us not to use them very much!

I LOVE the Ellipsis!


I love them, too... and use them ALL the time... and apparently incorrectly.

Sigh.

I'll have to take a look at the link posted.


Hey! I really like yours!

They are pretty... and... add drama!

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