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Back Lot Brawl
12-18-2003, 01:00 AM
Okay, as part of my (new) job, I have to edit text so that it's grammatically correct. This is rather straightforward...most of the time. However, I'm having a rather difficult time with one particular punctuation mark: the ellipsis. Now, this is not the ellipsis as used in academic writing to indicate omission of content, but the ellipsis as used in casual writing or a story, to indicate a pause or trailing off by the speaker (as in the second sentence of this post).

Now, I've always thought that with an end-of-sentence ellipsis, you have the three dot ellipsis, and that's it. However, I've also seen sentences end with an ellipsis and a period (and thus, four dots), which some people have told me is correct. I also discussed this issue with my mother, who's an English teacher (yes, I'm that big of a loser that I spend my free time talking about punctuation issues with my mom on a Saturday night...), and she said that you should end a sentence with just an ellipsis -- no period. The online grammar sites seem to say conflicting things, so now I'm just confused.

So, are there any ellipsis experts out there that can give me confirmation one way or the other?

Bryan Ekers
12-18-2003, 01:17 AM
Three is sufficient, four is an extravagance.

UDS
12-18-2003, 01:43 AM
The whole point about a trailing elipsis is that it doesn't have an end; it just trails off. So surely it's appropriate to omit the period? Three dots, with spaces between.

eunoia
12-18-2003, 02:23 AM
There are a few exceptions, but a majority of style guides you will consult will give a variation of:

A three-point ellipsis, with a space before and after but not between points, is used midsentence to indicate deleted text. A four-point ellipsis, with a space after but not before, is used to denote the end of a complete sentence.

From here (http://www.swarthmore.edu/bulletin/style_guide.html).
This style guide (http://main.uab.edu/show.asp?durki=7713) claims to be "based on three common style guides: the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook, The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Medical Association (AMA) stylebook" and offers similar information.

tomndebb
12-18-2003, 06:33 AM
The original intent of the ellipsis was to indicate dropped words, and from that perspective, the trailing period makes sense: first there is an ellipsis (showing that something is missing); then there is a period to end the sentence.

Of course, the use of the ellipsis to indicate a pause undoes that original logic.

Hence, you get conflicting claims (both from the manuals and from the SDMB). Your best bet would be to check with whoever will be cross-checking your work to see what they prefer, explaining that you understand the differences behind each format , but that you want to perform to their expectations. (Remember that every grammar maven believes that only s/he is maintaining Truth in writing, so arguing the point is futile.)

Colophon
12-18-2003, 06:37 AM
I agree that you should check with your employer: there is no hard-and-fast rule. I always used to go with four dots, but my current employer's house style is to use only three.

Quint Essence
12-18-2003, 06:44 AM
In mathematical statements 3 dots indicate a continuing pattern or series. I believe the use of similar punctuation in normal writing is an outgrowth of that practice.

eunoia
12-18-2003, 08:01 AM
Originally posted by tomndebb
(Remember that every grammar maven believes that only s/he is maintaining Truth in writing, so arguing the point is futile.)

People love to argue these things, you know how it is .... Until there's a Straight Dope-approved style we will never really know ------.

magog
12-18-2003, 08:09 AM
Another question, related. If you are using the four-dot method, is it ellipsis, then period, or period, then ellipsis? Which comes first, or does it depend on the situation?

I'd agree that you'd need to consult your style manual, especially because the ellipsis to denote a trailing thought is informal. Most style manuals I remember only address the ellipsis as missing words within a quote.

Polycarp
12-18-2003, 09:47 AM
The general rule seems to be that an ellipsis consists of three periods -- but does not in and of itself end a sentence. Therefore, a sentence that is syntactically declarative takes four dots -- three to constitute the ellipsis and the fourth as a sentence-ending period. But an exclamation or question would take three followed by an exclamation point or question mark.

BlackPheonix
12-18-2003, 11:44 AM
Okay, take this: "This is the end... or not."

In the above case four would be incorrect because thats not the end of the sentence. So I agree with polycarp.

Exapno Mapcase
12-18-2003, 01:12 PM
No, sorry, I disagree with Polycarp and so does the Chicago Manual of Style, 13th edition.

10.42

When a sentence ends with a question mark or an exclamation point in the original, this mark is retained and three dots added for the ellipsis.

This is obvious if you think about it. The ellipsis signifies missing material. There is nothing missing between the end of a sentence and its punctuation and so it is misleading to let the reader think that there is.

Shrinking Violet
12-18-2003, 01:20 PM
Wasn't this what Polycarp said ...?

Exapno Mapcase
12-18-2003, 01:33 PM
He said three dots followed by the question mark. I'm saying the question mark followed by three dots. I see a distinction there.

Matchka
12-18-2003, 01:55 PM
Heh

"Tales of Brave Elipses...."

Larry Mudd
12-18-2003, 02:38 PM
If the intention is to denote a pregnant pause, then it logically follows that you should skip the period.

ftg
12-18-2003, 02:43 PM
In some computer text formatting systems, e.g., TeX, the "three dots" are a single unit and are not considered periods. The program in no way treats them like periods. Periods require special handling regarding spacing and such. The spacing inside elipses is (more or less) fixed. The space after elipses is standard inter-word space and not after-period spacing. So a beginner might use "three dots" instead of the elipsis symbol and it will come out all ugly.

In short: elipsis, tiny space, period.

Bryan Ekers
12-18-2003, 02:52 PM
Originally posted by Larry Mudd
If the intention is to denote a pregnant pause, then it logically follows that you should skip the period.

bDOOM *kssh*

Cervaise
12-18-2003, 04:16 PM
Here's the way I'd do it, using a pointless edit of (picking at random) Poly's post above as an illustration.Original Post
The general rule seems to be that an ellipsis consists of three periods -- but does not in and of itself end a sentence. Therefore, a sentence that is syntactically declarative takes four dots -- three to constitute the ellipsis and the fourth as a sentence-ending period. But an exclamation or question would take three followed by an exclamation point or question mark.

Edited Post
The general rule seems to be that an ellipsis ... does not in and of itself end a sentence. Therefore, a sentence that is syntactically declarative takes four dots -- three to constitute the ellipsis and the fourth as a sentence-ending period. ... [A]n exclamation or question would take three followed by an exclamation point or question mark.[/B]The editing isn't meant to meaningfully condense the text; it merely shows examples of the two approaches in action. The first ellipsis, three dots only, comes in the middle of the first edited sentence, replacing words within the sentence, and thus is three dots. The second ellipsis replaces words (in this case, just one word) at the beginning of a sentence, so the terminal period of the preceding sentence is retained.

That's the way I'd do it, anyway.

If it's informal, say in dialogue ("I went to the... uh..." mumbled Joe), I'd say it's almost always an incomplete sentence and thus calls for the three-dot ellipsis.

Back Lot Brawl
12-19-2003, 12:50 AM
Thanks for all the answers...but now I'm even more confused! :-P I think I'll ask my bosses about it -- I've been reluctant, since I was supposedly hired because I usually know about this stuff.../.....

Ellis Dee
12-19-2003, 01:50 AM
Wait, what about the case of a sentence ending with an acronym or abbreviation that uses periods? Or do no acronyms carry periods anymore? I can't think of one offhand, so I'll use S.W.A.T. as the example:

We need to call in S.W.A.T.

My recollection of proper grammar was that you would not put an extra dot at the end. So, the above is correct, whereas the following is wrong:

We need to call in S.W.A.T..

Wouldn't the same logic apply to an ellipsis?

Colophon
12-19-2003, 05:22 AM
Cervaise has it perfectly, according to all known logic. But your employer (like mine) might disagree.

UncleBeer
12-19-2003, 09:39 AM
In some computer text formatting systems, e.g., TeX, the "three dots" are a single unit and are not considered periods.
And you can generate this extended ASCII character by holding down the "Alt" key and striking 0133 on your number keypad … .

Exapno Mapcase
12-19-2003, 10:42 AM
Originally posted by Ellis Dee
Wait, what about the case of a sentence ending with an acronym or abbreviation that uses periods? Or do no acronyms carry periods anymore? I can't think of one offhand, so I'll use S.W.A.T. as the example:

We need to call in S.W.A.T.

My recollection of proper grammar was that you would not put an extra dot at the end. So, the above is correct, whereas the following is wrong:

We need to call in S.W.A.T..

Wouldn't the same logic apply to an ellipsis?

No. The final period in an acronym is treated exactly the same as any other period. So if you were excerpting your sentence from a larger paragraph, it would read:

We need to call in S.W.A.T....

dropzone
12-19-2003, 11:46 AM
Originally posted by Cervaise
Therefore, a sentence that is syntactically declarative takes four dots -- three to constitute the ellipsis and the fourth as a sentence-ending period. ... [A]n exclamation or question would Not to nitpick, but two hyphens (--) do not equal one emdash (—). ;)

UncleBeer
12-19-2003, 12:08 PM
Indeed. And an em dash is generally inserted with no leading or trailing spaces—thusly.

Cervaise
12-19-2003, 12:19 PM
Well, Poly may have been typing on a keyboard that makes the emdash hard to access. I have no problem on the one I'm using here at work — it's got its own number pad — but my laptop at home makes it a pain in the ass. Ya gotta hit function F9 to turn on the embedded number pad, type Alt-0151 to get the character, then hit function F9 again to turn off the number pad. So I'll sometimes cheat with the double-hyphen, even though I know it's "wrong."

Which brings up a whole separate discussion: Are there degrees of "wrong-ness" in grammar? Isn't the point of language communication? As long as somebody understands what you mean, isn't everything else secondary? I was in a meeting yesterday where somebody answered a question by saying, "Her and I will be doing it." The incorrect usage made me wince, like somebody had flicked my mental nutsack, but the meaning was perfectly clear; there was no ambiguity in interpretation.

Really, what we're talking about here, I think, is that usage should be as clean as possible so there are no distractions to get in the way. It's why I put spaces around my emdashes, even though as UncleBeer says it's not standard, because I think it makes the text easier to read. And in the above example, when "her and I" floated across the table, I missed the next couple of sentences while the grating misuse bounced around my skull. "Correct" grammar, in my opinion, is best defended on the grounds that it doesn't get in its own way, not on abstractly elitist "do it because it's right" grounds. And this is applicable to the OP with respect to the "correct" use of ellipses because readers who "know better" will navigate the text awkwardly, like they're riding a bicycle through an annoyingly potholed road, while readers who don't know better won't even notice, like they're plowing a big car with spongy suspension over the same road.

That starts to turn into a IMHO or GD topic, though, regarding why it matters to get this stuff right; but I'd assert it's worth it, if for no other reason than respect for the readers for whom this stuff matters, and leave it at that.

dropzone
12-19-2003, 01:22 PM
If I removed all of the distractions from my writing there wouldn't be anything left. I write here like I speak, with as much of the snotty tone and campy emphasis intact within the limits of the software. But I agree that the REAL point of language is not hearing myself speak but to communicate and not only CAN the rules be evaded as long as you make your point but some SHOULD.

Grammar and syntax are critical in laws, treaties, contracts, and computer programs. Everywhere else you have to keep an open mind.

Exapno Mapcase
12-19-2003, 04:28 PM
Pet peeve time. We are not talking about grammar here in any way, shape, or form. Grammar is an intrinsic property of the language.

What we are discussing is style. Style is merely a set of conventions for setting language down in typography (or, more rarely, handwriting or printing) so that it is still understandable. Capitalization, spelling, and text referencing are not part of the spoken language. There are no ellipses in speech. They occur only when trying to fix the language down on a page.

There are not and cannot be rights and wrongs when it comes to styles. There are merely accepted ways of handling situations so that the typographer hopes that as many readers as possible will understand the author's meaning.

Many of the same issues of understanding come up when discussing grammar as well, but that's a different, if allied subject.

Fish
12-19-2003, 07:22 PM
Agreed, Exapno Mapcase. And as Cervaise also said, punctuation is aimed so the maximum readership understands it with the minimum of brainfreeze. So we're not talking style either, properly, if I may nitpick your word choice; we're talking about typographical tradition. Closely adhering to tradition insures that most of your readers will pass right by the punctuation without a blip, I think we agree. (Of course, typography says a full stop isn't the same thing as a period, too, but we won't go there.)

As for my own pet peeve, we're not talking about "well, we use them this way in mathematics, so it makes sense that..." or "well, a computer uses ellipses in this manner, so logically..." or any other interpretation from the school of Well It Stands To Reason.

The last time I read my Strunk & White, it had the following to say:

A sentence that trails off unfinished ends with three periods. (Whether you put spaces between the periods or not is a matter of typography.)

An incomplete excerpt of the first part of a quotation may end with four periods to signify the missing material and the excerpt's own final full stop, as: "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy ... ." (Spaced apart for clarity.)

A pause in spoken dialogue, or skipped words in a quotation or excerpt, can be represented by an ellipsis of three periods.

But that's Strunk & White. Other style manuals may say other things; ultimately, however you decide to punctuate, be internally consistent.

FISH

Exapno Mapcase
12-19-2003, 09:54 PM
No, you may not nitpick my word choice. :)

I said style, as in the topics covered by style manuals, as in the examples you used in your own post, as in the Chicago Manual of Style I quoted earlier on the subject of ellipses.

Styles may be traditional, but they in actual practice change frequently, which is why the 15th edition of the Chicago Manual recently appeared.

Meeko
12-19-2003, 10:44 PM
On the Commentary to Star Wars Episode 1 (The Phantom Menance, Lucas (or another person under him) commented on the fact that all Star Wars' opening story (back story) will always have 4 dots in the Ellipsis. It seem to be implied by this that it was a rare thing, if not invented for this purpose in the first place.

Meeko
12-19-2003, 10:48 PM
Slight Hijack;

The first time I saw Naive spelled, I noticed it was with an umlaut over the i. Yet, the regular dot was not shown. Has anyone ever seen a i with three dots?

dropzone
12-19-2003, 11:01 PM
I gave up in the Bs while checking my fonts but I don't recall seeing an i with three dots. There really isn't room for the one without visual or actual smearing.

Loopus
12-20-2003, 01:59 AM
Originally posted by Meeko
Slight Hijack;

The first time I saw Naive spelled, I noticed it was with an umlaut over the i. Yet, the regular dot was not shown. Has anyone ever seen a i with three dots?

When a lowercase I is accented (I'm not sure an umlaut counts as an "accent," but you know what I mean) in any way, the regular dot is dropped, whether in writing or in typing.

accent- í
grave accent- ì
umlaut- ï
circumflux accent- î

Shrinking Violet
12-20-2003, 04:41 AM
Originally posted by Fish
(Of course, typography says a full stop isn't the same thing as a period, too, but we won't go there.)



Please do ... I'm intrigued! I always thought they were one and the same. :confused:

Meeko
12-20-2003, 09:20 PM
Next thing I know, this post will be about gluttural stops and the schwa ə

FeRDNYC
08-18-2013, 11:39 AM
(Of course, typography says a full stop isn't the same thing as a period, too, but we won't go there.)

Please do ... I'm intrigued! I always thought they were one and the same. :confused:

I love this thread, and even though it's nearly 10 years old I'm going to revive it. If there's even a chance of anyone appreciating this, it's you lot.

Fish is/was correct, as with the advent of Unicode we finally have the ability to provide separate glyphs for nearly everything, with no need to overload characters. And with advanced input systems, like Linux Compose, or the auto-substitution performed by systems like M$ Office and LibreOffice, we can readily access them. (No, I don't consider typing out character codes with ALT+numberpad to be "ready access".)

So, finally, we have ellipses… not merely series of periods. At least eight different widths to use for space characters. Real “open” and “close” quotes. Over half a dozen dashes, to supplement the hyphen — not just em and en, but figure, swung, quotation, two-em, and three-em. And, of course, combining glyphs that facilitate s̶o̶m̶e̶ ̶f̶u̶n̶ ̶t̶r̶i̶c̶k̶s̶ even more advanced typography.

Which is why I find it interesting what's not provided in Unicode. Consider:

From the Unicode perspective, a period (U+002E) is a full stop (is a decimal point).
The right-single-quote and the apostrophe are one and the same. There is no separate apostrophe character. The ASCII character ' is the apostrophe-quote (U+0027), but that glyph includes the following notes:
U+2019 RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK is preferred for apostrophe
preferred characters in English for paired quotation marks are U+2018 LEFT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK & U+2019 RIGHT SINGLE QUOTATION MARK

Though, in the case of the period, there is also the separate U+3002 IDEOGRAPHIC FULL STOP。

MOIDALIZE
08-18-2013, 12:00 PM
Why do you know any of that?

Chronos
08-18-2013, 05:47 PM
Because he's a nerd. Is any further reason necessary?

njtt
08-18-2013, 06:48 PM
So will we ever know why Fish considered a period and a full stop to be different? Fish does not appear to have been active on the board since 2011. I recall being told by my high-school English teacher that the line "O bloody period!" in Othello was a sort of pun on "period" meaning full stop (Othello has just stabbed himself, so his life has come to a bloody full stop), so Shakespeare, like Unicode, seems to have thought they meant the same thing.

Incidentally, I see also that Unicode does have a middle dot character (U+00B7), which can be used to give a raised decimal point, but according to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpunct#British_English), raising the dot of a decimal point is a purely British thing. Unicode also has a weird "decimal mark" character (⎖ - U+2396) which I have never seen used anywhere. Does anyone know where this one comes from?

Senegoid
08-18-2013, 11:30 PM
I've been building a collection of “special characters” and I've even just now added some of the above-mentioned ones to it.

Linux (and I think Winders also) provides a “character map” or similar accessory that contains a catalog of many of these. To include them in your post (or whatever), just find it there and cut-and-paste it. To simplify that, I've made a simple little plain old file into which I've cut-and-pasted a somewhat miscellaneous collection that I either use a lot, or think I might, or that I've come across. Simpler than hunting through that huge character map accessory.

Here's a sampling of stuff I've collected:

‽ ¿ ¡ ⸮ ñ à å ç È é è ê î ó ô ö ù û ø æ Я
“ ” ‘ ’ « » ⎖
— (em-dash)
– (en-dash)
∈ ∉ ⊂ ⊆ ⊃ ⊇ ∪ ∩ ⇔ ◯ ⌀ ↓ ↑ → ∃ ∨ ∧ ¬ ⊣ ⊢ ⊬ Ø ∠ ≅ ∇ ×
± ÷ ≠ ≈ √ √ ⇌ 〈 〉 ≥
¼ ½ ¾
Α Β Γ Δ Ε Ζ Η Θ Ι Κ Λ Μ Ν Ξ Ο Π Ρ Σ Τ Υ Φ Χ Ψ Ω
α β γ δ ε ζ η θϑ ι κ λ μ ν ξ ο π ρ σς τ υϒ φ χ ψ ω
X א בבּ ג ד ה ו ז ח ט י
X ככּ ךךּ ל מ ם נ ן ס ע פפּ
X ף צ ץ ק ר שׁשׂש תתּ  •  ﭏ
… § † ‡ ‾ ¶ · • ● ■ ◆ □ ★ ✠ ° ♪ ♬ ♫ ✸ △ ▓ 。
~ | ¡ ¿ † ‡ ↔ ↑ ↓ • ¶ # ∞ ‘ ’ “ ” «» ¤ ₳ ฿ ₵ ¢ ₡ ₢ $ ₫ ₯ € ₠ ₣ ƒ ₴ ₭ ₤ ℳ ₥ ₦ № ₧ ₰ £ ៛ ₨ ₪ ৳ ₮ ₩ ¥ ♠ ♣ ♥ ♦ ♭ ♯ ♮ © ® ™ ✓ ✔ ☑ ☐
™ ® ©
£ ¢

JBDivmstr
08-19-2013, 03:57 AM
... Other style manuals may say other things; ultimately, however you decide to punctuate, be internally consistent.
FISH(bolding mine)

This is the most pertinent information proffered in the entire thread, IMHO. ;)

Well, Poly ... The incorrect usage made me wince, like somebody had flicked my mental nutsack, but the meaning was perfectly clear; there was no ambiguity in interpretation. ... (bolding mine)

And this made it worth wading thru (what started out to be) a boring and mundane thread. :p

"flicked my mental nutsack" Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! :D


Sometimes, I'm just too easily amused.

lingam
08-19-2013, 03:33 PM
Strunk and White weigh in...

The ellipsis itself is three periods (always); it can appear next to other punctuation, including an end-of-sentence period (resulting in four periods). Use four only when the words on either side of the ellipsis make full sentences. You should never use fewer than three nor more than four periods, with only a single exception: when entire lines of poetry are omitted in a block quotation, it's a common practice to replace them with a full line of spaced periods [emphasis added].

Elements of Style - Strunk and White

What the .... ?!?!
08-21-2013, 07:36 AM
A what where ................. ????

Mike Poet
06-29-2014, 07:53 AM
In the last two lines of my poem:

Where soon you will be joining me,
A harvest that will set me free...

I want to express more, but I leave it up to the reader. This poem is casual, which allows an expression of leaving one hanging. As if to say, "And."

Note: I would not do this in academic writing. As for four periods (....)? I've never used it. I think its overkill, and a bit outdated. Just my opinion. Good luck in your job!

Exapno Mapcase
06-29-2014, 10:26 AM
As for four periods (....)? I've never used it. I think its overkill, and a bit outdated. Just my opinion. Good luck in your job!

Did you even bother to read the thread you brought back? (Hint, post #12 and others.)

cmyk
06-29-2014, 11:08 AM
FYI…

The ellipsis character can be accessed on a Mac by hitting Option-: (that's Option and the colon key).

Or, press and hold the period key on an iOS device.

Colibri
06-29-2014, 11:33 AM
Mike Poet, we allow resurrecting old threads if new information is being added. Since your post does not contribute anything that hasn't been said eleven years ago, I'm going to close it.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator