The Ellipsis Says You’re Omitting Something—or Nodding Off
- On September 14, 2021
A friend recently resigned from her job and received a message from a colleague that said, “Hi … Just spoke with Tom and heard you’re leaving… call soon…”
My friend was confused. Was she supposed to call her colleague or was the colleague going to call her? And were those dots, sprinkled throughout, conveying something else? Disappointment? Surprise? Resentment? My friend didn’t know.
The dot, dot, dot punctuation mark—known as the ellipsis—crops up in a lot of writing, particularly in casual correspondence, and most of the time, it’s being used incorrectly.
The ellipsis indicates you’ve omitted words someone said; it also can convey a trailing off or even stuttering effect. It’s fair to say that neither use (its only ones) is really in the domain of most business communication, casual or otherwise.
It’s fine to take some editorial shortcuts in things like text messages, DMs and IMs, but not if they compromise clarity or are just plain wrong. So, the next time you get the urge to go dot, dot, dot, consider going with a comma or period instead.
And be sure to make it clear who’s calling whom!