Today it's time for the Sheriff to tackle ELLIPSES! They are those little dots (. . .) you find in books, emails, news stories, etc. No matter where there are words . . . there are ellipses. *giggle* See what I did there? ;-)
Back to business!
Ellipses are one of the most commonly MISUSED things when writing. I used them incorrectly when I first started writing. Not only are there specific instances you need to use them, there is also a specific WAY to use them.
First, why we use them:
1. To show that we are omitting something.
"I want to go to the store tomorrow; Macys is having a sale; there's this new pair of shoes I must have!"
With the ellipses: "I want to go to the store . . . there's a new pair of shoes I must have!"
OR: "Twilight has been the most successful movie of 2012--but I hated it."
With ellipses: "Twilight has been the most successful movie of 2012 . . ."
Hmm . . . do you see the difference in the second example? By omitting something and adding ellipsis, I've actually changed what the writer was trying to say. Interesting . . .
Other reasons to use ellipses include: showing time has passed, showing a list is finished, and the most used reason--the speaker has trailed off in the middle of a sentence or left something unsaid.
NOW, the formatting. And this is serious, peeps. Mainly because I see this wrong All. The. Time. And if it weren't for my good ol' friend Sarah Fine, I would have never learned this. She wanted to get to the bottom of the ellipse dilemma, therefore making me an expert. LoL.
Formatting is simple:
--Ellipses use THREE dots. Not two, not four, and please NOT five. Three dots.
--There needs to be a space BEFORE and AFTER the set of dots.
--Now this last rule is debatable (for some). But Grammar Girl says this is correct, and who am I to argue?
So, lastly, put a space in between each of the dots, too.
End the end, your sentence will look like this:
I think . . . wait . . . did you say there was a man-eating dog in the backyard?
Got it? Good! Now go tackle the world and fill it full of ellipses! Oh, wait . . . don't do that. Using too many it a bad, bad thing. ;-)