Ellipsis is a punctuation mark that refers to the omission of a word, words, phrase, paragraph or sentence that is not necessary. The sentence can still be understood with the presence of the ellipsis.
The ellipsis is formed by a set of three spaced full-stops/periods. There is also a space before and after the ellipsis. Four full-stops are used if the ellipsis comes at the end of a sentence: three full-stops to indicate an ellipsis followed by a full-stop to indicate the end of the sentence. The ellipsis can occur at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a sentence or clause.
- Without ellipsis: You might say, "I ate a chicken pie, and she ate just a donut."
- With ellipsis: You might say, "I ate a chicken pie, and she just a donut."
(The word ate is omitted because it is understood from the context what the speaker means.)
- Without ellipsis: She went to the spring sale on Saturday, and her brother went to the spring sale on Sunday.
- With ellipsis: She went to the spring sale on Saturday and her brother on Sunday.
(The word went to the spring sale was omitted and the sentence can still be understood.)
- Is that your bag? No, it's Tom's bag.
- Is that your bag? No, it's Tom's.
(The word bag is omitted as it is understood.)
Ellipsis shows pause, hesitation, or interruption
An ellipsis is used to show a pause, hesitation, or interruption.
Ellipsis within quotation or with question mark
Ellipsis at end of quotation
When a quotation ends with an ellipsis, the ellipsis of three full-stops is followed by a sentence full-stop – that is, four full-stops altogether. There will be no space before the first or after the last full-stop.
Ellipsis used in long quote
If a quote is too long, the words that are unnecessary may be omitted and replaced with an ellipsis.
- "Our plan for the summer was to climb the mountain. We had a long discussion about it days before the climb, and a week later we all agreed to cancel the plan.
- "Our plan for the summer was to climb the mountain. We had a long discussion about it . . . and . . . all agreed to cancel the plan."