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The Ellipsis … stop abusing it!

I have no idea how many times in the last week I've fell prey to the errant ellipsis. You see it in an instant message and then wait for the rest of the thought like a dog awaiting a promised treat. Alas, nothing follows. Do you ask for the rest of the thought? Do you wait and try to followup next time you see them in person? Or... Even worse... do they not know what an ellipsis means? For some reason more often than not lately I have been a victim of the "I just end sentences with multiple periods" syndrome. Stop it. You can not add extra periods to imply that you are super duper done with your statement. Sure, extra exclimation points are good fun - but extra periods like... mean something - they don't indicate extra done-ness.

Now, I'm certainly not a grammar specialist, but when I see an ellipsis, I get all excited waiting for the held back nugget of drama. Then when it doesn't come I am sad. So, so sad. So please. One period means "statement over," while more than one means "more awesome stuff to come."

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  1. lol @ werelord’s comment. I’m definitely guilty as charged.

  2. Ouch.

    I have always known I take too many liberties with the ellipsis. I didn’t realize how bad it was until I just read your post.

    I searched my blog for “…” and I found far too many ellipses, all used incorrectly.

    I declare that from this point forward I will strive to only use them when indicated. I am so mad at myself I could…

  3. Actually… I just talked to my wife about this. Was telling her (grammar misuse is a pet peeve of hers) how bad I have been. Her response was refreshing. She said that she uses the three periods as a flow of thought. More how she talks, conversation style typing, if you will.

    That is how I use them also. A true ellipsis has a space before and after the periods. Maybe I will take my declaration back and use them less than I do. Take them away completely? Maybe I was too harsh on myself…

  4. I agree entirely. My rant here was definitely targeted at emails and instant messages. I think the ellipsis is certainly abused by some on blogs and other posts online, but it also does exactly as you say – lends some insight to who the writer is, how they think, etc.

    It’s not ellipsis abuse when you actually follow the ellipsis with “more awesome stuff” – or maybe more appropriately… more profound stuff. 😉

  5. Yeah, I hear what you are saying. I don’t always follow with profound or awesome stuff (in fact not sure if anything I have ever typed could be labeled as either).

    Sometimes I use them as “umm” or pause indicating thought or as a transition point. Other times I use them because I have myself stuck in a bad habit of using them.

    I also add a 4th period (or more) to sometimes voice frustration. I hate it when I do it and normally I catch myself but sometimes it slips out.

    Something like, “Maybe we wouldn’t have these problems if our developers checked their code for performance first…..”

  6. ellipsis are meant to have a space before them

    that is their proper use and grammar, everyone here has written wrong

    (p.s. I dont bother writing things properly as you can see he, but if we are being pedantic then better get it right)

  7. I’m afraid this (very old) thread is plain wrong and I feel obliged to comment! The truth is far more nuanced. Amongst its many uses the ellipsis can very validly be used to indicate aposiopesis (a trailing off into silence), sometimes even regret or sadness. I could go on but …

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