ellipsis marks: spacing? punctuation after?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by arjun78, Jun 4, 2010.

  1. arjun78 Senior Member

    I take it ellipsis is used in dialogue or informal writing. I'd like to know two things.

    1) Just a second . . . don't go yet. (this is an example)

    Space before and after ellipsis, and also space between the dots. Is this correct?

    2) What if there is a question mark after ellipsis?

    Example: If someone asks a question. "And you are . . .?"
    A question mark after ellipsis would be essential. But must there be a space between the last dot and question mark?

    Also, what if the question goes something like this. "You must be Mr. . . .?" Must there be four dots in a row?:)
  2. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
  3. Cagey post mod

    English - US
    Here are the conventions as I know them from AE.

    1) We don't space the dots, but use the spacing that the system gives. Yes, we leave a space between the ellipsis and the words on either side.
    Just a second ... don't go yet.
    2) At the end of a sentence, the forth element is the punctuation mark that ends the sentence, whether it is a period [= full stop] or a question or exclamation mark.
    You are ....
    "And you are ...?"
    You most certainly are ...!

    These issues are discussed by the Capital Community College Foundation, a US source.

    Added: I just remembered: In some cases, people are advised to place the dots immediately after the preceding word to prevent automatic formatting from separating the ellipsis from what immediately precedes it:
    You most certainly are the most...!


    You most certainly are the most
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2010
  4. arjun78 Senior Member

    Thanks for the reply. What about two sentences separated by ellipsis, as in dialogue? Should there be a period?

    Example: Lisa said, "You must wait for sometime. ... Don't go yet."

    The first dot is the period, and following three dots form the ellipsis. Is this correct? Because 'You must wait for sometime' and 'Don't go yet' are both complete sentences.

    Also, what about end of sentence. Lisa said, "Wait for me. ..."

    This is quite confusing.
  5. Cagey post mod

    English - US
    My advice:

    If you are removing a complete sentence, you need four dots.
    "You must wait for sometime. .... Don't go yet."
    Because the ellipsis can also represent words the original speaker or writer left out, in this forum and elsewhere, people often use brackets to enclose the dots representing words the writer has omitted.

    For instance, if Lisa trailed off and stopped speaking, you might represent it this way:
    Lisa said, "Wait. I want to come too. I've been looking forward to this for days. I have been ready to go since dawn. Wait for ...." She realized they couldn't hear her and turned away in tears.
    If you quoted the passage and wanted to make it shorter, you might say:
    Lisa said, "Wait. [....] Wait for ...." She realized they couldn't hear her and turned away in tears.
    A small point: One set of marks may represent one sentence or many.
  6. kalamazoo Senior Member

    US, English
    I don't think there can be an ellipsis in dialogue except when the dialogue itself comes from one source and is being quoted in another source.

    Actually I see from Cagey's example that there can be,but only when there is a sentence that the speaker didn't finish. If the speaker finished the sentence, then probably there shouldn't be an ellipsis.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2010
  7. arjun78 Senior Member

    Thanks again. I am not talking about quoting dialogue from another source. I meant the dialogue we read in fiction. In those cases, is ellipsis used exclusively for pause, hesitation etc.? If so, I assumed punctuation marks either in the middle or at the end would be inappropriate. (because a period, for instance, will end the sentence and NOT show pause or hesitation)
  8. kalamazoo Senior Member

    US, English
    I think in dialogue an ellipsis is appropriate when the sentence trails off without being completed, but I don't think it's the best way to indicate pause or hesitation between two complete sentences.
  9. Cagey post mod

    English - US
    I agree with kalamazoo. I think punctuation won't do the job here. You are going to have to write it in.
    "You must wait for a while." Lucy hesitated."Don't go yet."
    Sometimes writing in an action will have the effect of suggesting a pause.
    "You must wait for a while." Lucy turned to face him. "Don't go yet."
    A side note: Usually we wouldn't use "sometime" here. A while might work, or for some time, depending on what you mean to say.
  10. arjun78 Senior Member

    Thank you very much, Cagey and Kalamazoo. Ellipsis is clear, but I am curious about another thing.

    Is it normally done this way, or does the bolded portions start with a new paragraph? I assumed anything new, action or otherwise, starts with a fresh paragraph.

    Such as:
    "You must wait."
    Lucy turned to face him. "Don't go."

    Is it just a matter of style, then?
  11. arjun78 Senior Member

    There's another thing I forgot to ask. Let's consider this example.

    "Maybe..." He rubbed his chin. "... That's what you must do."

    When we're breaking off in this way, I read somewhere that ellipsis must be used in the manner described above. The thing is, must the second quote ("... That's what) be capital? Or should it be 'that' instead of 'That'?

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