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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ellipses


Grammar Rules on ELLIPSIS POINTS, continued from Monday (start there).

2. The three-plus-four-dot method requires more care. It is often used with poetry and scholarly works.

·      Three dots mark an omission within a sentence, while four dots mark the omission of one or more sentences. The fourth dot is actually a period, with no space between it and the preceding word.

Example: 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. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.”

à “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation . . . dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. . . . We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.”  

·      Grammatically complete sentences should precede and follow the four dots, even if part of either sentence is omitted.

Example: “Is this true? It cannot possibly be! Yet, alas, I fear it is. My death is the consequence, and I shall perish.”
à “Is this true? It cannot possibly be. . . . My death is the consequence, and I shall perish.”

·      Other punctuation immediately preceding or following the three-dot ellipsis may be retained, but never with four ellipsis points since the fourth dot is a true period. (Note in the example above that the exclamation point was eliminated.)

·      Use three dots if a sentence is left incomplete on purpose.
Example: The kids knew the song began with “Old MacDonald had a        farm . . .” After that, they waited on the teacher to name the animal.

·      With poetry, use three dots at the end of a line when the omission makes an incomplete sentence. Use four dots for an omission if the sentence is grammatically complete.
Example:
Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. . . .

He said to his friend, "If the British march

By land or sea . . . “

3. The third method of using ellipsis points requires eating the bullet. It’s for die-hards whose goal is to preserve the integrity of the original text while maintaining their sanity. All you need to know is that such people exist, there’s a method for their madness, and you can live without knowing what it is.

Grammar Challenge: Your Turn! Use the three-plus-four-dot method to rewrite the following paragraph, omitting the underlined words:

“What was Amy doing out there in the field by herself? Foolish girl! She was too young to be sensible about danger. She was prone to pick up and coddle anything that moved: centipedes, millipedes, spiders, scorpions, snakes, hornets. Hollering my head off, I chased after her and brought her safely home.”

NEW! THURSDAY: Tips on Sharpening Your Writing Skills.
FRIDAY: More on ELLIPSIS POINTS.

Answers: “What was Amy doing out there . . . ? Foolish girl. . . . She was prone to pick up and coddle anything that moved: . . . scorpions, snakes, hornets. Hollering my head off, I chased after her.”

Did you catch how this is different from the three-dot method?


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