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Ellipses (three periods with spaces in between) are a punctuation mark used to indicate a pause in speech or that part of a quote has been removed. When used correctly, ellipses help to accurately represent someone's words and avoid misrepresentation.

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Video transcript

- [Paige] Hello, grammarians. Hello, David. - [David] Hello. . . Paige. - [Paige] (chuckles) So in this video we're gonna talk about a piece of punctuation called the ellipsis or ellipses in the plural form as we have here. So, what is an ellipsis? - [David] So an ellipsis is a punctuation mark that is actually made up of three periods with spaces in between them, boop, boop, boop. And it has two main uses. - [Paige] Okay. - [David] Use number one. It indicates a pause in speech. So like when you said, "Hello, David." And I said, "Hello...Paige." - [Paige] Right, so that ellipsis in the middle shows that you're pausing when you're speaking. So like, there's a lot of reasons why you might pause in your speech, you might be hesitating or thinking or just whatever the case may be, you can use an ellipsis to show that you're pausing. - [David] Right. Uh, and usage number two for the ellipsis is that it shows that a portion of quoted material has been taken out. - [Paige] Why would you take some of a quote out? - [David] So we have here, Paige, you have chosen a quote from the renowned wizard and orator, Albus Dumbledore, and he says, "Words are, "in my not so humble opinion, "our most inexhaustible source of magic." If you wanted, you could kind of take out that aside, that, "in my not so humble opinion." - [Paige] Yeah, I don't have a lot of space on this screen, so I don't want to write that whole thing. - [David] Mm-hmm. - [Paige] Right. So I can say, "Words are, ellipsis, our most inexhaustible "source of magic." - [David] So, okay, so Paige, I have a question. - [Paige] Yeah. - [David] Why do we even need this? Why can't you just say, "Words are our most "inexhaustible source of magic"? - [Paige] That's a great question. So, if I quote someone and I just sort of willy-nilly take words out without indicating that I've taken some information out of the quote, I can make it seem like someone said something totally different to what they actually said, right? It can be so easy to misconstrue someone's actual words. So this shows that this isn't exactly what Albus Dumbledore said, but it's the point that I want to get across with my quote. Does that make sense? - [David] I think so. So you're saying that there's kind of like an ethics question here. - [Paige] Right. - [David] So how do we like accurately reproduce someone's words without misrepresenting them? - [Paige] Totally. - [David] So it shows that you have messed with it somehow. - [Paige] Yes, exactly. - [David] But that you're calling out the fact that you've cut out pieces, so that people don't necessarily get the wrong idea. - [Paige] Totally. - [David] But I think there is kind of an art to using ellipsis, right? - [Paige] Yeah, I agree. You know, you could use it in, you know, technically wherever you want when you're quoting someone if you wanna take something out. But if you use it over and over or in the wrong places, you can still misrepresent what a person was saying. - [David] If you wanted to, you could render that sentence, "Words are my opinion." - [Paige] Yeah. - [David] Right. - [David] If you didn't use ellipses, you could just render that however you please, because those were words that were said approximately in that order, right. - [Paige] Yeah, without ellipses or-- - [David] Without ellipses. - [Paige] Okay. - [David] You know, you could just be like, "Words are my opinion." - [Paige] Mm-hmm. - [David] And that's not, that's not exactly what Dumbledore said, right? - [Paige] Right. No, that's not what he was saying at all. Those are some of the words he said, but that's not the idea he was trying to get across. - [David] So you have this responsibility with ellipses to do the right thing, to really represent the way that somebody speaks accurately. - [Paige] Yeah, definitely. - [David] Let's talk about the end of someone's sentence and I want to indicate that at some point after I cut off the end of the sentence, the sentence ends. Where do I put that extra period or do I need an extra period? - [Paige] Right. Okay. - [David] So let's say our sentence is something like, "I like cheese, although I'm more partial "to a Wensleydale than I am to a cheddar or a Stilton." You might want to just be able to write that sentence as, I like cheese, ellipsis, period, right? - [Paige] Yeah. - [David] So we're still including the terminal punctuation in this sentence. - [Paige] Yes. - [David] To show that it ends after the ellipsis. - [Paige] Right, yeah. That ellipsis there is showing that stuff has been removed, right, from this quote, and then that final period is showing that it's the end of a sentence, just like it normally does. 'Cause like, the ellipsis, you know, looks just like three periods, but it is it's own thing, and doesn't stand in as a period. - [David] So that's what, so if we didn't have that final period, it would just sort of look like you were trailing off like there was a pause. I like cheese. - [Paige] Yeah, there would be no end to that sentence. - [David] Right. But those are the two functions of ellipses, then, is that it indicates a pause in speech, like, "Hello...Paige." Or it shows that a portion of quoted material has been taken out. - [Paige] Yeah. - [David] Like, "Words are...our most "inexhaustible source of magic." - [Paige] That was a great Dumbledore impression. - [Albus] Thank you, Paige. You can learn anything. - [Paige] Okay. - [Albus] Albus out. - [Paige] Paige out. - [David] Cool.