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    • Join Date: Oct 2005
    • Posts: 71

    Question ellipsis/the dots-expressing feelings

    Hi there,

    I've been writing some short stories for my students to practise different tenses, modals, etc. and wonder whether the suspension points (dots) I used to express irony, surprise, reluctance, etc. are OK. For instance one is entitled 'Rules...' (by using the dots I intended to express their dislike of and resistance to rules in general)
    Another one is entitled 'More about... comparatives and superlatives'; again, by using the dots I intended to stress both the comparative 'more' and the fact that it helps you to find out more things about the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives.
    No style or punctuation manual indicates the use of the suspension points (ellipsis, the dots) in order to convey feelings, emotions. I wonder why?
    To make a long story short, have I used the dots correctly in the above-mentioned examples?

    Thanks a lot,

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    Re: ellipsis/the dots-expressing feelings

    Hello Angela,

    Your "Rules..." does indeed convey unspoken thoughts on the subject of "rules".

    The second example would be fine in the context of e.g. a series of articles on different aspects of grammar, each one of which kept to the same format:

    • More about...prepositions
    • More about...conjunctions
    • More about...the anticipatory anaphora

    In this instance, the ellipsis would express a pause for effect.

    Ellipses are very popular in informal or unpublished English (e.g. emails, forum chat, etc.), where they take the place of a significant look or tone of voice.

    In edited English of a non-frivolous kind, they tend to appear less frequently, except to indicate omissions; I suspect that copy-editors regard the "expressive" ellipsis in much the same light as the exclamation mark (i.e. as something that can be overdone).

    In your context, though, they seem perfectly appropriate.

    All the best,


    Not a professional ESL teacher.

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