How to (not) use ellipses.
Are you guilty of misusing ellipses?

You use ellipses as periods.

We all have that one person in our lives who insists on ending every online sentence with an ellipsis. You open an email from this person, and dots jump out at you from every corner of your screen. The meaning of the sentence becomes lost as you mentally picture your aunt, your brother, or your best friend … talking … just like … William Shatner …

You've forgotten the true purpose of ellipses. Instead, you use them like an emoticon in every other text message.

This is so common, you may not even realize how many ellipses hide in your text message history. In a world where there is an emoticon for every aspect of human life—from winky faces to eggplants—ellipses have come to indicate the conversation you don't want to end, the decisions you don't want to make, and sometimes the words you're just too lazy to type out.

You use ellipses so much that you sometimes say "dot, dot, dot" when speaking to another person.

This happens! Not often, but when it does, you know ellipses have truly taken over your life.

So what are the proper uses for this misunderstood punctuation mark?

  1. Ellipses are used to indicate the omission of quoted material.
  2. Ellipses indicate a pause in speech.
  3. Ellipses can express an unfinished thought.

Just remember, as with everything else, use ellipses in moderation!

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