The ellipsis are three points that are placed consecutively and that serve to indicate suspense, doubt, fear in the text or narration. They are an important tool that makes it possible to give meaning to written texts.

In this sense, they are part of the set of rules that are used in written language, with the use of ellipsis it is possible to give structure and meaning to certain expressions through pause and intonation. So these characters usually help the reader to better understand the reading.

Correct use of ellipsis

The ellipsis are part of the punctuation marks, in this case it is represented by three points and as its name indicates they serve to suspend the text, these points are placed one after the other.

The ellipsis per rule, should only be placed in a number of three, it constitutes an error those cases where there are 4, 5, or more points.

Suspension signs to indicate pause

The ellipsis are used when we want to indicate that there is a pause in the speech, this pause expresses suspense, fear, hesitation or doubt.

Example:

  • I don’t know which dress to wear blue or green … I don’t know which one to wear.
  • They are calling you from the office… I hope it is to give good news.
  • I want to know … I’m not sure … if you want me to accompany you to the movies tomorrow.
  • If I told you what I know …

Suspension signs to indicate prolongation

They are used when you want to indicate that the text is not finished, but the interlocutor can complete it. It is widely used when referring to popular sayings or well-known works

Example:

  • If your father saw you …
  • Tree that is born crooked …
  • When the river sounds…
  • Shrimp that falls asleep …

Suspension marks to hint at improper content

Ellipsis are also used when insinuating words that may be inconvenient or rude. In some cases they will be placed after the first letter of the word to be hinted.

Example:

  • Go to the c… I can’t take you anymore.
  • Son of a b…

Suspension signs to suspend information

These points serve to suspend an incomplete statement.

Example:

  • It was all very difficult … I would prefer not to talk about this.

Suspension signs to indicate continuity in the enumeration

When indicated the enumeration can continue.

Example:

  • In the zoo there were many animals: tigers, gorillas, snakes, elephants, insects, zebras, leopards …

When we indicate that the list is not yet complete, it can be equivalent to using etcetera.

Example:

  • Let’s go on vacation. We think we will relax, we can rest, go dancing, change our routine, play bingo, ride a horse, swim in the sea …

Suspension signs to avoid redundancy in appointments

They can be used to avoid completely citing a long title that will be mentioned again.

Example:

  • The play when I want to cry I don’t cry is a work that was written by the Venezuelan author Miguel Otero Silva. The novel when I want … is the fifth work of this writer, it was published in 1970.

To indicate that a fragment or word is missing from a textual quote:

Example:

  • “Lord, sadness was not made for beasts (…), they become beasts”

When a text is emphatically lengthened:

Example:

  • It was a winter night … it was very cold …

Other examples of the use of ellipsis

The ellipsis when used in narratives are written together with a script, this separates it from the text of said character, to indicate that these phrases are part of the speech that was interrupted.

Examples:

When there are interruptions

  • The sea… -Pedro was silent: someone entered the room.
  • I didn’t tell you when …! It’s not worth it, you won’t listen to me anyway.

When you suddenly change your mind

  • I have been analyzing that… I will do it; This time I better take the risk.
  • On second thought…: how good that I didn’t go.

When you stutter

  • Yes … you even thought about it-stammered Ana.
  • That’s how… it happened, ”the boy said stuttering.

When an answer is being pondered

  • More unpleasant things have happened. That I remember at this moment …
  • It must have been… let’s see… if I remember correctly… fifteen years ago.
  • When the plant … ehh … performs respiration.

Express suspicion, doubt, fear, irony, or sarcasm.

  • Since you mention it… What were you doing late at that site?
  • It can be … of course it can be!
  • It seems … I’m not sure, that I was innocent

How are the ellipsis used?

  • The ellipsis are always written next to the word or sign that precedes them, they must be separated from the next word or sign through the use of a space.
  • Being at the end of a sentence and if they coincide with the point, the next word must be written with a capital letter.
  • If they are not finalizing the text, the next word will be written in lowercase.
  • Regarding the spacing, it can be said that it can vary according to the language, in Spanish this space is reduced to a minimum. In other styles these points are clearly separated through a space.

Curiosities about the ellipsis

  • Did you know that previously the ellipsis were written in number of three or five points. Currently the royal academy indicates that there should be three points to write.
  • The ellipsis are not pauses… they are interruptions.

Most common mistakes when using the ellipsis

  • When ellipses are overused, they can give the idea of ​​underdeveloped text.
  • Use the ellipsis and also etcetera.

Example:

Incorrect forms:

  • For the birthday party I already bought everything I needed: Juices, bread, cake, cutlery, candles, soft drinks, canapes, candies, etc …
  • Come tonight and we will do something ……

The use of the two alternatives is incorrect, in the first example it is redundant, because when writing the word etcetera we will not accompany it with an ellipsis, both indicate the same thing. In the second example, as previously mentioned, the Royal Academy established as a rule the use of only 3 consecutive points as ellipsis.

Another common mistake is to place a comma after the final word, the periods must be placed next to it.

  • For the birthday party I already bought everything I needed: Juices, bread, cake, cutlery, candles, soft drinks, canapés, candies, …

The correct use for this writing should be after the word candies the three points without the comma.

The ellipsis and the other punctuation marks

A question that may arise on some occasions is about when we can use another of the punctuation marks, if the ellipsis are used, that is, if they should be placed first or later. The answer is that they will always come later.

Example, using the comma

  • At the end of arranging the room, the clothes, the kitchen, the garden …, I will not believe it.

It would be wrong to write it like this:

  • At the end of arranging the room, the clothes, the kitchen, the garden, … I will not believe it.

Example using the colon:

  • Seeing it well …: I don’t like it

It would be wrong to write it like this:

  • Seeing it well:… I don’t like it

Example using semicolon

  • I’ll get a new haircut, I’ll wear a nice dress…; I will look fabulous for the party.

It would be wrong to write it like this:

  • I will get a new haircut, I will put on a nice dress;… I will look fabulous for the party.

Example using point

In this case, the point will not be written after the ellipsis, not even if they are at the end of the sentence, since it does not make sense that four points are found in a row.

The exception to this aspect is when we use an abbreviation.

Example:

  • I don’t like that Mrs.….

Example for using question marks and exclamation marks

The important thing to consider again if the sentence is complete or not. If it is not finished, it will be written in front of the signs.

  • It bothers me…! I don’t want to know anything else

If the sentence is not finished, it will be written after the sign

  • Will you be home already? … I hope so.

Capitalization after ellipsis

Doubt may arise as to whether uppercase or lowercase will be used after the ellipsis to begin the next sentence. In this case we only have to consider if the sentence ended or if it is not.

  • I was dying to find him … I hadn’t seen him for two months.

In this other case:

  • I’m not sure, but… I won’t go.

The pause is considered a comma, since there is a doubt, the next word is written in lowercase.

Conclusion

To conclude, it is worth mentioning the importance of the different punctuation marks, since, with their proper use, confusion is avoided when reading and speaking, since they allow to separate ideas and give context to the writings.

The use of interactive media, social networks, telephone messaging has misrepresented the appropriate use of these graphic characters. However, it is important to maintain correct use of each punctuation mark.

The ellipsis on any occasion serve to interrupt, show that the idea was not completed, indicate suspense, fear …, so its use gives meaning and generates interest in reading.

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Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of ​​expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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