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Prose Parade
Grammar and writing basics

September 27, 2010

Ellipsis (…)

What did the poor little ellipsis ever do to deserve such brutal treatment? Look at any direct mail letter, and they’re scattered around like seasoning on a piece of meat. I know it’s annoying, but even the poor ellipsis has rules.

First, it’s used inside a quote to indicate some part of the quote is missing.

For example, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war,that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation,shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”


Second, in general, it indicates an omission outside of a quote, for instance, to show a thought has trailed off. “I was thinking we could jump off a bridge, but

Sometimes with a thought that’s trailed off, we can see the logical end of the sentence, so the sentence should have the ellipsis and a period. “On the other hand.”

So, no matter how many times the direct mail letter has ellipses to grab our attention, we still know what the writers want: our money. And you don’t want to be in their company, do you.