Ellipsis (a pause) after a period

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sheeptwo

New Member
Russian - English
Hi,
Let's say I'm writing a relaxation script and I need to make a pause after a sentence. Do you put the ellipsis after the period or before?

For example:
"Notice how tight the muscles in your hands and arms feel. ... Hold the tension" (ellipsis should indicate a pause)

Should I use spaces between the ellipsis in this case?
 
  • lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    That's tricky.

    The ellipsis doesn't look good between the two sentences. It would look better to end the first sentence with an ellipsis:
    Notice how tight the muscles in your hands and arms feel... Hold the tension
    Alternatively, if this is a script, why not insert [Pause] between the sentences, or even a paragraph break?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I may be unorthodox but I would not use the period:

    "Notice how tight the muscles in your hands and arms feel... hold the tension."
     

    scrotgrot

    Senior Member
    English - English
    I agree with PaulQ - an ellipsis is meant to reflect spoken language which is usually very disjunctive and ungrammatical anyway.
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    An ellipsis at the end of a sentence usually indicates that something has been left out:

    John said, "I'm the best driver in the entire . . ." just as he drove off a cliff.

    If you do use it in this way (instead of lucas's excellent suggestion of the word (Pause) -- which I would place in parentheses or brackets, and italicize, as lucas did -- I put the period at the end of the ellipsis, essentially making a four-dot ellipsis.
     

    sheeptwo

    New Member
    Russian - English
    This is very tricky for me. I don't want to use "(Pause)" as I find 3-4 dots to be more intuitive.

    So, pob14, I would use:
    Sentence .... New sentence
    Think of the word "relax" .... New sentence
    ?
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    I find 3-4 dots to be more intuitive.
    Of course. But do English speakers find dots to be more intuitive? If this is a written script meant to be read out loud, stage directions such as "(Pause)" would be perfectly intuitive.

    I don't share pob's view in which ellipses are always linked to the omission of information. I would be fine with using the dots, if you want. They would look like this, at least in my personal style book:

    "Sentence.... New sentence."
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    I said "usually," not "always." And what I was describing as to formatting is just what lucas has said above, except that I always put spaces between the periods in my ellipses, as I was taught many years ago in the days of typewriters.

    As an actor, I take the "ellipsis" pause to be intended as shorter than the [Pause] pause, for what that's worth.
     

    pwmeek

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Technically an ellipsis (a substitute for missing word or words) is three dots, and an ellipsis that goes to the end of a sentence is four - the ellipsis and the terminal period/full stop.

    You seem to be indicating a mental pause. I would use one of the other suggestions: spell it out <pause>; new line; or perhaps even a spaced em-dash (...hands and arms feel. -- Hold the....). Note the use of ellipses.
     
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