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Ellipsis

  • September 6, 2015
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In Writing

Ellipsis (plural, ellipses) is a technique in grammar, also called elliptical construction, that is used to avoid unnecessary repetition or to avoid stating information that the reader already knows. Just as a pronoun aids when referring to a known subject, the ellipsis omits known information that would make writing and conversation long-winded and clunky.

“How many pizzas have you eaten this week?” “I have eaten five pizzas this week.”

This conversation could be much simpler and quicker using the ellipsis.ellipsis

“How many pizzas have you eaten this week?” “Five.”

Further examples:

“Rachel misses Frank and Frank, Rachel.”

“There are ten cows in the barn; in the pasture, six.”

“I can help at the store; Michael can, too.”

In Punctuation

This device is composed of three dots … that indicates some sort of pause or hesitation, the tapering off of a thought or conversation, or it can indicate an omission. There are various accepted ways to write it, and some argue against using it at all. AP Style wants three consecutive periods with a space at the front and back, while others want a space between each dot. The following examples are written according to AP style.

“I know what I would like … I want a burger,” said Bill.

“She was … she was gone.” The man was nearly in tears.

“The was a loud crash and then … nothing.”

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