…Ellipsis…

Another short post, this time on ellipsis (the three dots; “…”). It’s considered to be one (!) punctuation mark, like a comma or a period. So it’s a unit. Normally, English doesn’t allow you to use more than one punctuation mark in succession without a very good reason. I’m not sure how a “?!” works in that matter, whether it’s not recognized at all or whatever. Fun fact on that: back in the day, people tried to fuse those two into a unit to probably solve that exact problem. It was called interrobang but didn’t really gain acceptance. I’ll write something short on that too sometime.

Back to the ellipsis. There, again, seem to be three ways to put it.

Option 1: That’s… just out of question.

Option 2: That’s…just out of question.

Option 3: That’s … just out of question.

Option 2: I’ll start with the, in my opinion, worst option again. Basically, I’ll argue here with the same point all the time: the ellipsis is a punctuation mark, see above. And usually, you leave space after a punctuation mark, for readability reasons and because it’d look just dirty. There’s just no point in chaining two words like this, especially when you think about how there wouldn’t be any space if the ellipsis was left out. It’s flat-out unreasonable. I just don’t get the thinking behind it. Why would people put it like this?

Option 3: Option 3 does at least look tidier. Since the ellipsis is a rather long punctuation mark, this helps to keep things sorted. However, see above. There’s no reason to not stick with the usual grammar rules and simply put it like option 1. It breaks with, errr, traditions and that for no absolute gain. Option 1’s just as readable and is still conform with punctuation rules. Also, I think French handles punctuation marks in general like option 3 does?

Option 1: Readable. Looks tidy. Doesn’t infringe any rules in my opinion. Why even discuss?

Now, there’s a second thing that’s worth a thought: when do you capitalize the word after an ellipsis and when do you not? I’ll try give you a sound explanation/idea. If the stuff after the ellipsis is still connected to the sentence/thought of the part in front of the ellipsis, you stick to lowercase. In other words, if it’s still the same sentence or if you left the ellipsis out and it’d be one sentence, then lowercase. If a new train of thought or sentence starts after the ellipsis, you capitalize it like you’d capitalize a new sentence, too.

That simple. And I don’t see anything wrong with this. Just use your head and it should be clear. Sticking to this also helps clarifying that it’s a new sentence to the reader. For instance, “That’s… I don’t wanna do that.” Here, “That’s…” could stand for “that’s just nuts” or something. It’s an incomplete sentence and not connected to the second part. Then again, “I” would be capitalized in any case, so please use your imagination here.

2 thoughts on “…Ellipsis…

  1. There is an overuse of ellipsis and stutters in LNs and young adult fiction. I flick through normal novels to compare the editing, and using Tolkien as an example, I can’t even find uses of … or “P-Please”. Lack of descriptive language in LN probably causes a lot of the weird punctuation. Well, they are called ‘light novels’, and they sure as hell aren’t bright.

    I did find interesting stuff like “Stop!!!” and “Sh! sh!”

    • Yeah, normally most of the things that are handled with this punctuation spam are dealt with in the narration. We’ll talk about that on another post to come soon(tm).

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