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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Ellipses (Ellipsis Marks)

Ellipses

It is a form of punctuation that looks like this: . . .

Creative writers often use ellipsis marks to indicate an unfinished thought and/or to create ambiguity in the mind of the reader, leaving him to his own interpretation or conclusion, or lack thereof. Formal writers use ellipsis marks to indicate that they have quoted but a portion of a longer passage. The rules are simple:

1) If omitting part of a long quotation, use ellipsis marks after the last punctuation mark.
      For example: "Research scientists have quartered down the genetics of rudimentary barn mice to determine what makes them more or less flavorful to mousers. Even cats born at the barn tend to eventually wander the main house and lurk outside of frequently used doors, patiently waiting for a chance to dash in and jump on the kitchen counters. Scientists believe that if they can breed a more flavorful variety of the common barn mouse, . . ."

2) Use only three marks whether they are placed in the middle of a sentence or at the end.
      For example: Many years ago our agricultural forefathers brought forth . . . cats to keep the feed room vermin free, but alas, cats crave modern amenities and . . .

3) Hear ye, Hear ye! DO NOT overuse this technique.
     

 What really annoys you about writers' use of this punctuation?

Tomorrow: Fragment

This post is brought to you by the April A to Z Blog Challenge. Check back all through April for daily discussions of writing conventions.

5 comments:

Susan Roebuck said...

Oh I'm horrible for overusing these (and dashes). I try to tell myself, when I use them, that "there's something left out". Great for calling our attention to this. (Must stop doing it...)

Janna said...

I've seen where people use ellipses in place of all other punctuation. It drives me crazy!

thesoundofonehandtyping said...

Herb Caen and Irv Kupcinet used the ellipsis to great effect, you know...

Kimberly said...

I rarely use this in my fiction writing. But I definitley use these at work when I'm quoting from one of our user guides so I don't have to write out the whole darn thing. :)

I missed the last couple of days so I need to go back and see what else you wrote about.

William Kendall said...

I do use them periodically.

At least once a day....

There's my quota!

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