The ellipsis mark consists of three dots (periods). We use the ellipsis mark in place of missing words. If we intentionally omit one or more words from an original text, we replace them with an ellipsis mark.
- Suppose we want to quote "The film focussed on three English learners from Asia who were studying at university." Perhaps we want to omit "from Asia who were" to save space. So we write:
"The film focussed on three English learners...studying at university."
The new sentence still makes sense, but the ellipsis mark shows the reader that something is missing.
We sometimes also use an ellipsis mark to indicate a pause when someone is speaking, or an unfinished sentence. Look at these examples:
- She turned to James and said, "Darling, there is something...I need to tell you. I have never felt like...like this before."
- "It's not easy to explain. It's not..." Her voice trailed away as emotion welled up within her.
Do we use a space with an ellipsis mark? That is a question of style. Many style manuals recommend no space, like this:
- three English learners...studying at university
- It's not...
Others recommend using a space before and after an ellipsis mark, like this:
- three English learners ... studying at university
- It's not ...
The important thing is that you choose one style and use it consistently. Do not mix your styles.