Doug Bruns

It was not a rhetorical question.

In Writing on April 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Two days ago I asked, “Can anyone tell me how to end a sentence after an ellipsis? Four dots? It looks so unsettled…so unfinished.” Knowing that the crowd here must be hell-bent disturbed by that open question, I hereby serve up the answer. According to the Modern Language Association’s Handbook:

When the ellipsis coincides with the end of your sentence, use three periods with a space before each following a sentence period–that is, four periods, with no space before the first or after the last.

Clear as mud.

The real question, put to me succinctly, is: Why the hell would anyone end a sentence with an ellipsis?

Not sure how to respond to that…(.)

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  1. I use a lot of ellipsises….

  2. I should have thought that the point of an ellipsis is to suggest an open-ended, unfinished thought in process. So the period suggests a person in denial, ambivalent about whether there will be more to say, or the saying is finished. Or a person who assumes that the rules of punctuation require completed sentences–never partial. Never without a subject and predicate. Never using a preposition to end a sentence with… If I wrote with punctuational honesty, every phrase would begin and end with an ellipsis. It would look ugly, but portray accurately our Hericlitean fate in expression…

    • Dr. Freud would be pleased with your observation. I would like to comment further, but it’s morning and the stables need cleaning….

  3. i only punctuate with ellipses (sp? pl?) these days….. so lazy. am in florida trying to find you the perfect t-shirt for your trip…..

  4. I end a sentence that way when I am saying or intimating something that I don’t actually want to put in writing but know the person I am writing to will understand is meant to follow. Hence the unsettling feeling (speaking only for myself of course).

I welcome your comments. Thanks for reading.

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