Punctuation Lesson on "..." AKA Ellipsis

I get a lot of e-mail forwards, and as you know, e-mail forwards are the hot bed of terrible grammar, punctuation and formatting. One punctuation error that really bugs the crap out of me is the "..." or ellipsis, being used at the end of every other sentence, or even in the middle of a sentence, in place of a period, a comma, or a semicolon. It drives me up the wall.

The ellipsis is primarily used when omitting information, such as when shortening a quote. For example, if you wanted to shorten the quote: "I grew up in Washington, a very rainy state, and loved it." You could use an ellipsis, like so: "I grew up in Washington ... and loved it."

Occasionally it is used to mark a pause in speech, like: "Bob thought and thought ... then thought some more. But really, this could just as easily be accomplished with a comma, and in some cases, a semicolon, if the two haves of the sentences are separate, but related ideas. Also, if you are going to use an ellipsis in this manner, make sure to include a space before and after the ellipsis, don't add it right next to the word, like you would a period or comma.

Anyway, please try and substitute ellipsis' with commas, semicolons, and periods; I think we will all be much better off for it.



Use a comma to separate the elements in a series (three or more things), including the last two. "He hit the ball, dropped the bat, and ran to first base."

Use a comma + a little conjunction (and, but, for, nor, yet, or, so) to connect two independent clauses, as in "He hit the ball well, but he ran toward third base."

Use a comma to set off introductory elements, as in "Running toward third base, he suddenly realized how stupid he looked."

Use a comma to set off parenthetical elements, as in "The Founders Bridge, which spans the Connecticut River, is falling down." By "parenthetical element," we mean a part of a sentence that can be removed without changing the essential meaning of that sentence.

Use a comma to separate coordinate adjectives. You could think of this as "That tall, distinguished, good looking fellow" rule (as opposed to "the little old lady"). If you can put an and or a but between the adjectives, a comma will probably belong there.

Use a comma to set off quoted elements.
Summing up this argument, Peter Coveney writes, "The purpose and strength of the romantic image of the child had been above all to establish a relation between childhood and adult consciousness."

Use commas to set off phrases that express contrast.
"Some say the world will end in ice, not fire."


Use a semicolon to help sort out a monster list.
There were citizens from Bangor, Maine; Hartford, Connecticut; Boston, Massachusetts; and Newport, Rhode Island.

Use a semicolon to separate closely related independent clauses.
My grandmother seldom goes to bed this early; she's afraid she'll miss out on something.

No comments:

Post a Comment