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GRAMMAR TIP: Ellipses


The ellipsis seems to be one of the most intriguing punctuation symbols, and I see it misused everywhere. From student papers to books to everyday e-mails, the ellipsis is tossed in at will and often extends to four, five, or even six dots, but if used correctly, the three-dotted ellipsis can be quite effective.

Some of the right ways to use an ellipsis include:

1. The intentional omission of words.

Example: All employers must honor the minimum wage requirement….

The original sentence read: All employers must honor the minimum wage requirement or risk paying a fine.

2. A pause in speech.

Example: I think I just got an… interview!

[if !supportLists]3. [endif]An unfinished thought.

Example: Now, where on earth did I put that…?

4. A sentence that trails into silence.

Example: I thought you might say that….

Pay special attention to an ellipsis that ends a sentence. It is the only time you should include four dots since the final dot serves as the period.


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