Indicating a pause in dialog [punctuation]

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Biffo

Senior Member
English - England
Hello

I want to indicate that a character hesitates while speaking. I do not want to use words like 'um' or 'er'. I want to indicate a silent pause.

Example

"What is a banana?"
"It's... Well it's a fruit isn't it?"

Am I correct in using the punctation '...' or is there a better or more conventional punctuation?

Thank you.
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I think you are ... specifically, this (and definitely ellipses, rather than a dash):

    "It's ... well, it's a fruit, isn't it?
     

    Language Hound

    Senior Member
    American English
    I think you are correct in using ellipsis, and Merriam-Webster does define it (emphasis mine) as:
    marks or a mark (as …) indicating an omission (as of words) or a pause
    Of course, if you're writing a play or a screenplay,
    you have the option of referring to the pause, e.g.,
    X: What is a banana?
    Y: It's...(he pauses). Well, it's a fruit, isn't it?
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think you are ... specifically, this (and definitely ellipses, rather than a dash):

    "It's ... well, it's a fruit, isn't it?
    Thank you. I notice you include a space before the ellipsis where I didn't. Would you say it is generally correct to have spaces on both sides of an ellipsis wherever it occurs?
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Thank you. I notice you include a space before the ellipsis where I didn't. Would you say it is generally correct to have spaces on both sides of an ellipsis wherever it occurs?
    I was of the same opinion until a few years ago when I noticed that someone whose grammar I respected was using a leading space, so I did a little research. I don't recall where it led me, but as you can see, I switched.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I was of the same opinion until a few years ago when I noticed that someone whose grammar I respected was using a leading space, so I did a little research. I don't recall where it led me, but as you can see, I switched.
    Thanks to both of you.

    I was finding it difficult to search for examples of "..." because in Google, for example, punctuation is ignored. Now I know what the three dots are called, I'm going to search for 'ellipsis'! :) There seem to be plenty of articles about it.
     
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