Punctuation—Where, When, Why, and How to Use It


There are different ways to handle the ellipsis. Some of these are affected by using the insert symbol feature in a word processor. One common way to handle the ellipsis is with no spaces between the periods and a space on each side of the ellipsis when it is between words and no space between the ellipsis and a quotation mark.

Stylistically, ellipses are best used to give a thoughtful, contemplative feel to prose. They do not always have to be part of a quotation and can be used in narrative. While ellipses can serve a purpose, they should be used sparingly and not overused.

1. An ellipsis takes the place of omitted words in a quotation

Example: “She was talking about dresses, skirts, pants … until she turned blue in the face.”

2. To indicate a long thoughtful pause

Example: I wanted to call her … no, needed to call her.

3. Indicates trailing off (as opposed to an abrupt interruption)

Example: I couldn’t hike any farther. I just couldn’t do it anymore. Just couldn’t …

4. To indicate a continuation of time

Example: The timer counted down: ten, nine, eight …

5. To indicate pauses in conversation as if a “realization” is occurring

Example:”Why would he … would they?”

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I felt like I was back in English class! These were great refreshers, some rules I wasn’t even familar with!

Thank you for the refresher course. I am a casual writer and probably break these rules frequently. It must drive you crazy!

I was always told never to put a comma before the word ‘and’ so it’s interesting to learn that’s not always the case!

I think I need to go back to English class!! I have to! lol. This helped me to remember this important things

This topic can’t be communicated enough! It is crazy how many mistakes are made… (I don’t exclude myself here :))

Thank you for sharing! It is so useful. I thought i was good at punctuation but realise i get confused with semi-colons and don’t know the other uses for others x

After leaving school,I have never really payed attention to the way i write and all the grammar rules. But ever since I have started writing again, I feel like I need to go to the library to get back all those grammar rules books. So thanks for this post, it helped me a lot.