[Originally Broadcast on
Public Radio]

An Ellipses has Nothing to do with the Sun© DrWrite.Com 2005

An ellipsis is a series of three periods-—only three-—that mark missing words, force a pause, or create an abrupt interruption. For example:

"Mr. Hardcastle ... one of my best friends ..."

Most of the time the ellipsis is preceded by a space, even at the end of a sentence. You've seen it often; those unassuming little dots. Harmless little things that we just skip right over. But do you ever wonder what they signify? What was left out? And more importantly…why? Advertisers love them. In the example above, the reviewer might have said:

Slip those little ellipses in there and you've changed the entire meaning. "The play was wonderful ... a complete triumph". It's perfectly legal and it's done all the time.

Sometimes an ellipses is used to indicate a missing word, like this: "Uncle Jack told Billy Bob to get the … out of the house."

And Captain Kirk spoke with ellipses.

Ellipses can also be used as a cue to the reader to pause, just a little bit longer than we might pause for a comma. But be careful. Too many ellipses…too much time...but...I could be wrong.