When to Use an ELLIPSIS (3 General Rules)

How and When to Use an ELLIPSIS

This video simplifies grammar questions relating to the use of an ELLIPSIS by boiling it down to 3 main rules with some grammar notes.

Illustrated examples are provided along with clipart images to make the meaning clear.

Poor punctuation can really let you down and make your writing look amateur. Improve your writing and make your written communication professional by learning how to use an ELLIPSIS correctly.

After seeing the video, look for opportunities today to use an ELLIPSIS clearly in your writing.

Here is a transcript of the video: How to Use an ELLIPSIS (3 General Rules)

Slide 2:
An ellipsis* (plural ellipses), comprises three dots: . . .

It is used to indicate words or sentences that are omitted for 3 main reasons:

  1. to get to the point and remove information that is less relevant or important.

* from Latin and Greek words meaning “to leave out”

Slide 3:
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Slide 4:
In the picture we see an exhausted nurse.

Full Caption:

“Francesca Palumbo, intensive care nurse of the San Salvatore Hospital in Pesaro, Italy, at the end of her 12-hour shift during the COVID-19 pandemic, March 18, 2020.”

Abbreviated caption focusing on the exhaustion of medical staff in general, regardless of the specific location and date:

“Francesca Palumbo, intensive care nurse . . . during the COVID-19 pandemic . . . .”

Slide 5:
2. to indicate a trailing off* of thought
* “trailing off” means to become weaker or less, to fade

Slide 6:
The picture shows a very messy kitchen.

Sentence: When he came home and saw the state of the kitchen, all he could say was, “What the . . . ?”

Note: The full thought could be a phrase such as  “What the heck is this?” in slang or informal English.

Slide 7:
3. to indicate a pause or hesitation, or create suspense or expectation

Slide 8:
In the picture we see a woman with a shocked look on her face in the sea.

She jumped into the water and said: “Huh, it’s . . . freezing!”

Slide 9:
Ellipsis grammar rules:

There are numerous variations of ellipses depending on which style a writer prefers.

Some put spaces between the dots, others don’t. Some remove the space before the first dot, and some after the last dot.

Four dots may be used when the ellipsis comes at the end of a sentence – 3 dots for the ellipsis, 1 dot for the period at the end of the sentence.

This video simplifies the grammar by showing what is generally acceptable without going into technicalities which can be researched on the internet.

Slide 10:
So to summarize,
How do you use an ellipsis?

  1. To quickly get to the point by removing less important information
  2. To indicate a trailing off of thought
  3. To indicate a pause or hesitation or to create suspense

Slide 11:
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Slide 12:
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So, you know how to use an ELLIPSIS correctly, how about a COMMA? Click Here:
How to Use a COMMA

Image Credits:

Slides 1,4 – nurse
Creative Commons

Slide 6 – messy kitchen
Creative Commons

Slide 8 – swimmer
Creative Commons


Regarding the use of illustrations and photographs used in this video:

Creative Commons Attribution Licence
Others are allowed to copy, distribute, display, and perform copyrighted work – and derivative works based upon it if they give credit to the creator or source.