Ellipsis in English

Ellipses in English

Dear Students, we welcome you to our today’s post on ellipsis as a punctuation mark.  In this page you have the definition of ellipsis and usages of ellipsis in details (with examples sentences from everyday English).

Definition of Ellipses

Ellipsis means the omission of one or more words from a particular sentence. Sometimes we make deliberate omission of certain words or phrases in our writing to make a variation in our writing. This omission is termed as ellipsis in English Linguistics.


Ellipsis in English : The Punctuation Mark

Basically the ellipsis in English consists of a set of three periods ( . . . ). Unlike period we use at the end of a sentence, these periods actually indicate the deliberate omission in the sentences. There must be spaces on either side. We use no space with the quotation mark. The punctuation mark is also  colloquially, “dot-dot-dot” or ellipsis.


How to Use Ellipsis in the Informal writing

There are some imperative uses of periods of ellipsis in informal writing. They are as under:

  •  In order to express irregularity of our thinking or scattered thinking, we use ellipsis. Examples includes “If I were . . . Oh, I could manage it anyhow”.
  • In order to express our hesitation or vacillation, we can use ellipsis. Examples include “Oh! The boy was as always . . . ready, As I found him last 03 years or so, but this time . . . what he did . . . is unreliable”. For this particular use, ellipsis is sometimes called a suspension point in English.
  • To hide the name of person or place, we use ellipsis of proper noun. Example is “The man who has hit the bell was my friend and the policy is look for . . ..


How to Use Ellipse with Conjunctions

Here the omission of words or phrases are deliberate. Most of the time the meaning of the sentences remain clear to the readers.

For example, The man is poor but honest. Here we’ve combined two sentences. The sentences are ‘the man is poor’ and ‘the man is honest’. We have deliberately omitted the words”He is”  from the second sentences. This is an ellipse.

Moreover; we sometimes use marks or a mark (as … ) for indicating an omission (as of words).


Where can I use periods of ellipsis in Poetry?

Like all other types of writing in English, we can use them in the poetry. In most cases we use a full line of periods. In this case several consecutive periods make the ellipses. This way a complete line can be omitted from a particular. This is one of the popular uses of periods, particularly in punctuation of modern poetry. Let us see an example of ellipsis in poetry.

 We have quoted the lines from Patrick’s “The Optimism”:

It was 1971 It was a doubtful year …………………………………………We fought for freedom We sacrificed a lot and won .


What are usages of Ellipse in quotation?

We use periods of ellipsis in the quotes. Actually we can delete the unnecessary portion of the quotes by using the periods of ellipsis.  It is noteworthy that we can also avoid using dot-dot-dot in the quotation.

Examples include: Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek (Barack Obama).

This is equally important for use of ellipsis either in the beginning or ending. We mean we should not use the periods though we have omitted some part of the quotation. 

Examples include: She has heard one of the best quotes from the President, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time,” she quotes this line several times in her speech.


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