Properly Punctuated & Grammar Explanation: Ellipsis, …

Posted August 20, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Grammar Explanations, Properly Punctuated, Self-Editing, Writing

There are two principal types of ellipses: punctuation and grammar. The punctuation is the more easily seen of the two as it uses an actual ellipsis to replace text that is omitted. The grammatical ellipsis is an implied one. Words are omitted, and people subconsciously supply those words as they listen or read.

Properly Punctuated

Punctuation uses … to indicate omitted words when the writer is shortening up a quotation or using it in dialogue to give a character individuality in fictional writing. Please note that in a quotation, always, always, always use that ellipsis responsibly when omitting words from a quote. NEVER use ellipses to change the original author’s meaning.

You may have noticed how frequently I use ellipses *eye roll*. I find it very useful for conveying what my thoughts are as I’m writing. I think it gives you an idea of how my sense of humor (or sarcasm!) works *eyebrow waggle*.

You should probably use me as an example of what not to do, as you don’t want to overuse the ellipsis. In particular, you shouldn’t use it in formal writing unless you are leaving out a word or a phrase in a quote. In informal writing, whether it’s a story or email, some people find it annoying, so use your own judgment. I had to say that since I do love ’em *grin*.

Punctuation is…

…the proper use of quotation marks, commas, semicolons, colons, ellipsis, etc., including how to properly mark dialog, ahem. As Properly Punctuated is in no way complete, I would appreciate suggestions and comments from anyone…

If you’d like to track it, bookmark this page — and consider sharing this Properly Punctuated tidbit with friends by tweeting it.

Ellipsis, …
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Quick & Dirty Tips
Punctuation: …
Definition: The omission from speech or writing of a word or words that are superfluous or able to be understood from contextual clues.

Plural: ellipses

General Rule: Uses three dots. Generally indicates an omission or a pause in dialogue.

Style: Chicago Style and MLA require a space between each dot . . . and after the ending text and before the starting text. AP Style does not require a space…

A.k.a., points of ellipsis, ellipsis points, suspension points, marks of omission, dot dot dot,

Post Contents for the Punctuation:

Using Ellipsis Marks
Definition: The three dots are ellipsis marks.
Quotation Rule: Sometimes you want to shorten up a quotation, however, you must leave an indication that text was replaced. Using an ellipsis for every continuous bit of text tells your reader that words are missing.

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Legend:

  1. Green indicates the start and end of an ellipsis

AP Style:
Four score and seven years ago, our fathers…conceived in liberty,…all men are created equal.

Chicago & MLA:
Four score and seven years ago, our fathers . . . conceived in liberty, . . . all men are created equal.

Four-Dot Ellipsis Rule: If the start of the eliminated text ends as a sentence, use a period to indicate it would have ended, add a space, and then add the standard three-dot ellipsis.

CAUTION: NEVER allow an ellipsis unit (word…word) to straddle two lines.

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Legend:

  1. Green indicates the start and end of an ellipsis within a sentence
  2. Blue indicates a period in an ellipsis
  3. Blue-on-White indicates an ellipsis that begins a sentence

AP Style:
Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. …any nation can…long endure.

Chicago & MLA:
Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. . . . any nation can . . . long endure.

With !  ?   ;  : or , Rule: There are two different ways to use an ellipsis with exclamation or question marks at the end of a sentence.
Text Removed Before “Ending” Punctuation Rule: Any words removed within the sentence and before the ending punctuation are replaced with the ellipsis.

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How did you do it…?

Where did you…?

Katy gave up…; I said I’d follow her in an hour or so.

Katy learned this…: fabric must be washed before cutting, use a sharp rotary blade, and insert a new needle.

Text Removed Between … Rule: Similar to the four-dot rule and indicates that text is missing between the comma or the end of the first sentence and the start of the next clause or sentence.

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How did you do it? … Where is he now?

Katy gave up, …and I said I’d follow her in an hour or so.

Dialogue
General Rule: An ellipsis can indicate a pause, a passage of time, an unfinished list, something unsaid, uncertainty, insecurity, emotional distress, confusion…

NOTE: There is no space between the end of the word and the beginning of the ellipsis OR between the end of the ellipsis and the end quote (in APA).

Indicate a Trailing Off Rule: At the end of a sentence, it indicates a trailing off.

A.k.a., terminal ellipsis

I wouldn’t like to…

I can’t, I can’t…

Do you wanna…

Indicate Hesitation Rule: Used within a sentence, it indicates a hesitation, a pause in thought, uncertainty.

Use an em dash for more confident or decisive pauses.

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I…I wouldn’t like to try it.

Well…if…if you really think that we should.

Grammar Explanation

A grammatical ellipsis, a.k.a., a textual ellipsis, is implied and doesn’t provide a physical signal. It simply assumes we can fill in the missing words (or letters) based on something that has just been said either in a previous word, phrase, or clause in the same sentence or a continuing conversation.

I wouldn’t worry too much about the details of the grammatical ellipsis. It’s mostly a case of linguists without enough to do. I think they needed to fill a quota or something that month? year? This is mostly to give you an idea of what is meant and is most useful to know about when doing dialog.

Textual Ellipsis
Credit to: Chalker, 131-132; Encyclopedia.com; McCarthy, 43-44; Cambridge Dictionary.org; English Plus
Definition: The omission from speech or writing of a word or words that are superfluous or able to be understood from contextual clues.

A.k.a., elliptical expression, elliptical clause

Post Contents for the Grammar:

Categories of Textual Ellipsis
Definition: Textual ellipsis allows for an economy of words by avoiding the repetition of a word or phrase and affects the structure of a sentence. It’s a device that allows the reader to focus on the important information and contributes to clarity and emphasis. The ellipsis is implied (Encyclopedia.com).

A.k.a., grammatical ellipsis

Anaphoric Ellipsis Definition: Removes a similar word or phrase AFTER the original word or phrase and implies that it is repeated.

An implied ellipsis used in more formal speech or writing.

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Legend:

  1. Pale gray indicates the implied ellipsis

Take another piece if you want to take another piece.

We’re as anxious to help as you are anxious to help.

He’s always complaining and he’s always writing letters.

Cataphoric Ellipsis Definition: Depends upon a question or statement made to which an abbreviated reply is made, as an implied ellipsis.

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Legend:

  1. Pale gray indicates the implied ellipsis

When can I see you? Tomorrow.

Unless you particularly want to buy tickets in advance, there’s no need to buy tickets in advance.

Tom’s written to The Enquirer. Why has he written to The Enquirer?

What are you doing? Peeling apples.

Have you Seen my keys?

Exophoric Ellipsis Definition: Words omitted from informal speech or writing (using an implied ellipsis) that are understood from the contextual clues.

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Legend:

  1. Pale gray indicates the implied ellipsis

You Done in there?

Is there Anything I can do?

When you’re in a café and the waitress asks if you want coffee Two, please.

Types of Textual Ellipses
Each type of textual ellipsis uses an elliptical category.
Credit to: SlideShare; Wikipedia
Clausal Ellipsis Definition: Omits individual clause elements — all or part.

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Types of Ellipsis Clauses

Sorry, can’t help you.

Doesn’t matter.

Hope so.

He said he would take early retirement as soon as he could, and he has.

Comparative Deletion Ellipsis Definition: Occurs in comparative clauses introduced by than and drops the repetitive word, phrase, or clause (Wikipedia).

One big difference in a comparative deletion is that the repeated word, phrase, or clause has to be dropped as the excess wording is unacceptable.

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Legend:

  1. Pale gray indicates the implied ellipsis

More people arrived than we expected people would arrive.

She ordered more beer than we could drink beer.

Doris looks more satisfied than Doreen looks satisfied.

William has friends in more countries than you have friends in countries.

Gapping Ellipsis Definition: Occurs in phrases joined by
coordinating conjunctions and drops a word, phrase, or clause that follows the original one(s) — the gap (see anaphoric ellipsis). The gap doesn’t have to be in the middle, nor does it have to be a continuous ellipsis (Wikipedia).

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Legend:

  1. Pale gray indicates the implied ellipsis

John can play the guitar, and Mary can play the violin.

Fred took a picture of you, and Susan took a picture of me.

She persuaded him to do the homework, and he persuaded her to do the homework.

Should I call you, or should you call me?

Stripping Ellipsis Definition: Similar to gapping, but only ONE gap can occur (Wikipedia).

A.k.a., bare argument ellipsis

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Legend:

  1. Pale gray indicates the implied ellipsis

John can play the guitar, and Mary can play the guitar, too.

Sam has attempted problem one twice, and he has attempted problem two also.

Nominal Ellipsis Definition: Omits a noun head and/or any modifiers from a noun phrase. A nominal ellipsis can also occur with cardinal or ordinal numbers or possessive nouns or pronouns (Wikipedia).

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Types of Nominal Ellipses:

A.k.a., noun ellipsis, N-ellipsis, N’-ellipsis, NP-ellipsis, NPE, ellipsis in the DP

Legend:

  1. Pale gray indicates the implied ellipsis

Kelly liked the green tiles; I liked the blue tile.

Henry played saxophone, and so did Mary play the saxophone.

The park was full of healthy trees, as was our neighborhood full of healthy trees.

Fred did three onerous tasks because Susan had done two onerous tasks.

The first train and the second train have arrived.

I heard Mary’s dog, and you heard Bill’s dog.

If Doris tries my chili, I will try hers chili.

He likes you more than he likes me.

He likes you more than I do.

He is taller than she is.

He is as happy as they are.

He sees you more often than I see you.

He sees you more often than he sees me.

Epithet Nominal Ellipsis Definition: Its function is typically fulfilled by an adjective and frequently acts as the head in an ellipsis. It may occur as a color; note opposites; act as an attribute; or, perform a comparative or superlative function (SlideShare).

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Green suits you very well.

I like strong tea. I suppose weak is better for you.

the rich, the poor, the honest

I’ll buy you some prettier.

Mary is the cleverer.

Jones always gets hold of the finest.

Numerative Nominal Ellipsis Definition: Expressed by numerals or other quantifying words, which form three subcategories (SlideShare):

  1. Ordinals (first, next, last, second, fourth, +++)
  2. Cardinals (the three, these three, any three, all three, the usual three, the same three, +++)
  3. Indefinite Quantifiers (much, many, more, most, few, several, a little, lots, a bit, hundreds, +++)

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Have another chocolate? No thanks; that was my third.

Have another chocolate? No thanks; I’ve had my three.

Can all cats climb trees? They all can; and most do.

I’ll get one the Knight thought to himself.


“One side will make you grow taller,and the other side will make you grow shorter.”
One side of what? The other side of what? thought Alice to herself.
“Of the mushroom,” said the Caterpillar, just as if she had asked it aloud.


Specific Deitic Nominal Ellipsis Definition: Specific deitics are possessives, demonstratives, and a definite article. Their meanings are fixed but how they are interpreted can depend upon their context (SlideShare).

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3 Types of Specific Deitic Nominals
Possessives Demonstratives Definite Article
Smith’s
my father’s
hers
mine
my
your
+++
that
these
this
those
the‘s function is to signal that the thing designated is fully defined by something other than the itself and normally requires another item with it as in the two, the small, +++
Legend:

  1. Pale gray indicates the implied ellipsis

Just ask Janet how to polish the brassware. Hers sparkles.

Take these pills three times daily.

And you’d better have some more of those too.

The one that got away.

The boy’s parents had no time for him.

Which one is your father? The taller.

That-Clause Rule: There are times when that can be dropped from a clause; you are meant to interpret that same clause as if it were present.

Rule: As an essential clause after a noun.

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Legend:

  1. Pale gray indicates the implied that-clause

The book that I borrowed from you is excellent.

The apples that fell out of the basket are bruised.

Rule: As an essential clause after a verb expressing mental or emotional action.
Legend:

  1. Pale gray indicates the implied that-clause

I knew that something terrible had happened.

Maureen was glad that we had called in to see her.

Are you afraid that you won’t get a job when you leave college?

I am absolutely sure that I have met her somewhere before.

She believes that she will be able to earn an A.

Non-Specific Deitic Nominal Ellipsis Definition: The meaning of non-specific deitics is fixed and most act as the head of a nominal ellipsis. How they are interpreted can depend upon their context (SlideShare).

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List of Non-Specific Deitic Nominals
a *
all
any
both
each
either
every **
no *
neither
some
* Must be represented by the forms one and none as they cannot act as a head.
** Cannot act as a head
Legend:

  1. Green indicates the a & no exception

You got a soup bone back there? Nah, we ain’t got none.

I hope no bones are broken? None to speak of.

Is there cake? May I give you some?


Have some milk.
I don’t see any milk.
There isn’t any.


Write an essay on the Stuart kings. Two pages about each will do.

His sons went into business. Neither succeeded.

Post-Deitic Nominal Ellipsis Definition: Post-deitics are adjectives with a fixed meaning, but how they are interpreted can depend upon their context (SlideShare).

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List of the Most Common Post-Deitics
certain
different
famous
identical
obvious
odd
other
regular
same
typical
usual
well-known
+++
There are some 30-40 adjectives commonly used as post-deitics.
I’ve used up these three folders you gave me.

Can I use the other?

I’ll have the usual, please.

A group of well-dressed young men suddenly appeared on the stage. One of them bowed to the audience; the others stood motionless.

Question-Answer (Q&A) Ellipsis Definition: One speaker will ask a question to which another speaker responds, a rejoinder, and will be a direct or indirect response or both, a.k.a., sluicing.

Types of Q&A Ellipses:

Direct Response Ellipsis Definition: Directly responds to a yes or no question or to wh- questions.

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Legend:

  1. Pale gray indicates the implied ellipsis

Has John arrived? Yes, he has.

When did John arrive? Yesterday.

Who has been hiding the truth? Billy has been hiding the truth.

What have you been trying to accomplish? I have been trying to accomplish This darn crossword.

When does the circus start? The circus starts Tomorrow.
Why has the campaign been so crazy? The campaign has been so crazy Due to the personalities.

Indirect Response Ellipsis Definition: Indirectly responds to an indirect yes or no question or to indirect wh- questions or statements with a comment, a disclaimer, or extra information that doesn’t answer the question.

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Legend:

  1. Pale gray indicates the implied ellipsis

How did they break in? I’ll show you how.

Is it Tuesday today? I don’t know.

Why didn’t you tell John? I did.

When did they cancel the booking? Did they?

Did you tell John? He wasn’t there.

Are you coming back today? This evening.

The jewels are missing. I wonder what else.

Who could have broken those tiles? I can’t think who.

John was disappointed by the response. You can ask him.

She might be better living away from home. I’m not sure.

I wonder if it’ll rain on the day of the picnic. Probably.

England won the cup. Who told you?

I think the check is still valid. The bank can tell them.

Modal Ellipsis Definition: Occurs in responses to wh- questions.

The usual type of non-finite dependent clause is simply a clause with modal ellipsis.

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Legend:

  1. Pale gray indicates the implied ellipsis

What were they doing? Holding hands.

What are they up to in there? Painting the walls.

Propositional Ellipsis Definition: Occurs in response to statements and yes or no questions, where the subject is mentioned in the first statement or question.

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Legend:

  1. Pale gray indicates the implied ellipsis

The plane has landed. Has it?

Has the plane landed? Yes, it has.

Sluicing Ellipsis Definition: Occurs in both direct and indirect Q&A using a wh- expression (Wikipedia).

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Legend:

  1. Pale gray indicates the implied ellipsis

John can play something, but I don’t know what he can play.

When he will call I don’t know, but John will definitely call.

Something unusual happened. What happened?

He has been working on the problem. When has he been working on the problem?

Phoebe ate something, but she doesn’t know what she ate.

Someone has eaten the soup. Unfortunately, I don’t know who has eaten the soup.

Somebody is coming for dinner tonight. Who is coming for dinner tonight?

They put something in the mailbox. What did they put in the mailbox?

Although I don’t know why the pictures have been moved, the pictures have been moved.

When and how somebody should say something is unclear, but somebody should say something.

Situational Ellipsis,
a.k.a.,
Subject-Pronoun Ellipsis
Definition: Leaves out the subject pronoun because it is obvious from the immediate context, especially at the beginning of a clause, and it sometimes leaves out the auxiliary verb as well.

NOTE: This is a very informal usage, and most common in dialogue, particularly question and answer dialogues.

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Legend:

  1. Pale gray indicates the implied ellipsis

I Wonder where Helen James is these days?

Bye! I Hope you have a nice holiday.

I saw Janice in town. She Said she’s getting married next year.

There’s something wrong with the car. It Started making a funny noise on the way home.

Have you Finished with that book yet?

I’ve Lost my cellphone again. Have you seen it?


Do you Want some coffee?
Is there any?
Yeah. I’ve Just made some.


Telegraphic Ellipsis Definition: Very abrupt style that is commonly used in an appointment calendar, diary, or taking notes.

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Dentist
Call Raul.
Read my book. Went to bed.
Verbal Ellipsis Definition: Occurs in verbal groups that don’t necessarily follow the rules as we expect; we must presuppose if the answering verb is finite or non-finite; positive or negative; active or passive; and, if it’s a past, present, or future tense (Wikipedia).

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Types of Verbal Ellipsis:

Legend:

  1. Pale gray indicates the implied ellipsis

Have you been swimming? Yes, I have.

What have you been doing? Swimming.

Auxiliary Contrasting Ellipsis Definition: The auxiliary verb changes.

CAUTION: A verb group that includes the entire have been “verb” is not elliptical.

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Legend:

  1. Pale gray indicates the implied ellipsis

Has she remarried? She will one day.

Get the books back to the library? Took them back yesterday.

Is the laundry done? Yep, did it a couple days ago.

Coordination Ellipsis Definition: Uses a coordinating conjunction to link the clause + the ellipsis.

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Some were laughing and others crying.

Couples were dancing and others eating.

Echoing Verbal Ellipsis Definition: Repeats an element from the verbal group.

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Legend:

  1. Pale gray indicates the implied ellipsis

Will anyone be waiting? Jim will, I think.

Lexical Ellipsis Definition: Occurs when the lexical verb is missing from the second verbal group. It will contain a modal or operator. Auxiliary verbs are not lexical.

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Did Jane know? Yes, she did.


Is John going to come?
He might. He was to, but he may not.
He should, if he wants his name to be considered.


Is he going to come? He might.
Operator Ellipsis Definition: Omits the operators; the lexical verb always remains intact, and the subject is always omitted from the clause; it must therefore be presupposed.

In a question-and-answer sequence, the lexical verb either supplies the answer to do what? or refuses to accept the verb in the question.

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What have you been doing? Swimming.

Has she been crying? No, laughing.

Pseudogapping Ellipsis Definition: Introduced by an auxiliary verb but the omitted verb phrase is not entirely gone: one (or more) remnants of the verb phrase appear. Frequently occurs in comparative and contrastive contexts. It’s considered anaphoric and similar to gapping in that it creates gaps in the subsequent word, phrase, or clause and can be discontinuous (Wikipedia).

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Legend:

  1. Pale gray indicates the implied ellipsis

They have been eating the apples more than they have been eating the oranges.

I will feed the chickens today if you will feed the chickens tomorrow.

Would you want to say that to me, or would I want to say that to you?

They could read this book more easily than they could read that book.

Verbal Phrase Ellipsis Definition: Occurs with a non-finite verb phrase and must be introduced by an auxiliary verb or by the particle to. It can occur before or after.

Frequently used form of ellipsis.

A.k.a., VP-ellipsis, VPE

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Legend:

  1. Pale gray indicates the implied ellipsis

John can play the guitar; Mary can play the guitar, too.

He has done it before, which means he will do it again.


The man who wanted to order the salmon did order the salmon.

The man who wanted to order the salmon did order the salmon.


The Unexpected Ellipses
Social Ellipsis Definition: Instead of the standard three periods, the social ellipsis uses an asterisk — *** — to indicate a vowel(s) omitted in a socially taboo word.

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*ss c*nt f*ck sh*t

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