Jump to content

Punctuation/grammar question


CassieQ

Recommended Posts

I hope this is an appropriate place to ask this question, because it has been driving me mad.

My editor has told me that I have a tendency to misuse ellipsis. In particular, I am using them in a situation where an em dash would be more appropriate.

The only trouble is trying to figure out when one would be more appropriate than the other. The most helpful information I have come across is that an em dash (or hyphen) is most commonly used for a break in syntax, or in a situation where a parenthesis would not suffice. (When parenthesis would not suffice is whole other can of worms). Ellipsis are more commonly used to show a pause, more often used in a character's dialogue or thoughts or to indicate when there is a piece of text missing (the second reason less commonly used in fiction, I would think).

However, some sources also say that you can use both to indicate aposiopesis (whoa, big word)! which is where someone stops mid sentence for a reason other than being interrupted (like they are unable or unwilling to continue speaking). So which one do I use? I would think if it occurs during dialogue it would be okay to use an ellipsis instead of an em dash…is that wrong?

I just want to take English grammar, fling it across my lap and give it a solid spanking for being unreasonable! Any tips or advice from the "grammar" mentors would be very helpful.

Link to comment

In my Author-Editor Understandings document that I send to all the authors that I edit, I give the author the option on which to use--ellipses or em dashes. I have not seen a hard and fast rule, so I leave it up to the author.

Link to comment

The most helpful information I have come across is that an em dash (or hyphen) is most commonly used for a break in syntax, or in a situation where a parenthesis would not suffice. (When parenthesis would not suffice is whole other can of worms). Ellipsis are more commonly used to show a pause, more often used in a character's dialogue or thoughts or to indicate when there is a piece of text missing (the second reason less commonly used in fiction, I would think).

 

This matches my understanding of their uses. It would help, Cassie, if you could supply a sample of your work where you're using the alledgedly erroneous ellipsis. Posted Image

Link to comment
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Our Privacy Policy can be found here: Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..