Why Do People Keep Using Ellipses Instead of Periods?


I don’t understand this random use of the ellipsis that seems to be cropping up in every message I get. Ellipses are great. Really. I just don’t understand why people keep inserting them in the places of periods.

As a general rule, I don’t care that much about grammar. While inspired by the whole “you vs. u” debate yesterday, I actually get U instead of “you.” I do. I accept it. It saves time. But this ellipsis thing doesn’t.

It also doesn’t make you sound conversational. It makes you sound like you have an ongoing struggle with OCD that causes you to push the period button three times every time. Even if you were only trying to mimic your speech pattern, do you speak like Tiffany out of Daria? Seriously? Are you constantly trailing off like an aimless simpleton? To quote my new favorite facebook group Stop Misuing the Ellipsis… Or Die!:

Mom said we could have pie only if we finished our homework but…
(If you were speaking this sentence, your voice would trail off at the end and then maybe you would go sneak a piece of pie. The sentence remains unfinished and the voice trailing off lets everyone know that there’s something else coming.)

Try Our New McRib…
(That’s where a period goes. The only time you want an ellipsis there is if there’s more info coming like “Try our new McRib…or don’t” or “Try our new McRib…and get ready to poop!” or “Try our new McRib…and I slept with your mom.”

Come on. Don’t be a butthole. Stop ruining it for everyone. Use the ellipsis correctly…for Jesus.
I’m just sick of reading every sentence as though it’s trailing off into the nether. Do you have any punctuation misuses that irritate you?

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    • Eileen

      People who put their periods/commas outside the quotation marks. Unless you’re British and abiding by a completely different set of punctuation laws, it’s wrong. Also, it looks weird.

    • Mike

      Okay, I’d like to throw a theory out there. Back when IRC was the way to text chat and the people that used it didn’t see actual living human beings more than once or twice a month, techniques were developed to make text seem more like the spoken word. To properly differentiate between a pause at the end of a phrase and a mid-phrase pause (something…uh…sort of like this) ellipses came into more active use.
      Now, fast forward a number of years. The people that have been doing it forever continue to do it just as they always have, but the internet is easy to get on now. Text chat is a normal thing. Everyone sees this, sees it at the norm, and starts doing it not even realizing why it was started in the first place. You see this happen with syntax and grammar trends quite often. Hell, the popularization of the lack of concern for the proper use of your, you’re, there, their, and they’re is exactly the same thing. People saw it, assumed it was the popular and right “internet” thing to do, and imitated.
      Moral here is internet monkey see, internet monkey do.

    • Amy

      People who use “in regards to.” The only time there should ever be an “s” on the end of regard is if you are using it as a closing.


    • Brandi

      Ellipsis’s are more useful to convey a tone than a period, which is probably why more people use them. You include it in dialogue to better imitate the flow of natural speech. Periods indicated assuredness while the use of an ellipsis conveys that one is less sure of what they are saying. Most people do not sound completely confident in natural speech so an ellipsis is more appropriate. At least in casual electronic conversation.

      • Anna

        Normally, I’d just grumble to myself about it, but this this a thread about grammar, dangit.

        1= ellipsis

        2= ellipses

        Plurals are not formed with an apostrophe. The only exception to this rule is when one is pluralizing an acronym– e.g. CD’s, ID’s, IRA’s– and even then, writing the plural without the apostrophe is commonly acceptable.

        The ” ‘s ” construction is for designating possession –e.g. Anna’s grammar obsession– unless the person or object’s name ends with s. Then the name just gets an apostrophe at the end to indicate to the reader that something, somewhere in that sentence or one nearby belongs the person/object whose name ends with s. eg: “Ned Flanders’ house is creepy.” Or, “He saw a creepy house as he drove by. Briefly his mind wondered if it were Ned Flanders’, but then he realized he didn’t give a shit.”

      • damellipses

        they should state that they are unsure rather than use ellipses incorrectly or far to much. people use them for many reasons. I dont know the way that a person is using ellipses when there are a few ways of using them. It takes longer to understand what is said. its best if they just say what they mean, or just say that they’er unsure. They can even say they are trailing off. There is no need for ellipses when you can simply use other marks of grammar and simply type to the other person how you are saying something. people should learn about setting the theme of their conversation.

      • will no

        That might be what people think it’s for, and what people are using it for, but it’s not what it’s actually for.

        The ellipsis is used only to denote something which has been left unsaid.

      • Nope


    • Colleen

      I am known as the Grammar Nazi at the office as well as at home. The annoyances I have with improper grammar are numerous. Using quotation marks incorrectly and not understanding the possessive form vs. plural form really agitate me, especially on items such as restaurant menus (get a proof-reader, please).

      However, when dealing with personal items such as emails and texts, I am much more relaxed. Basically, my choices are to either relax about it or let my head explode with the stress of it all. LOL

    • Colleen

      P.S.: I LOVE the grammar nazi cat!!!!!

    • Kelly

      This kills me! I work with a few people who ALWAYS use ellipses instead of periods. I’ve gotten used to it but there are still those days when I say “Is X OK?” and they say “sure…” – the ellipsis makes it seem like they DON’T think it’s OK, or that they’re mocking me, or something. Really they are just trying to say “it is fine.”

      I get that they’re used to give more of a “tone” to the writing, but a lot of people use them for no reason at all just because it’s the end of a sentence…


    • nolalola26

      Misplaced quotation marks drive me up “the wall.” COME ON! When your sign says:

      Try our
      “Fresh, Delicious” baguettes

      it looks like you’re selling stale, disgusting baguettes.

    • Typographical Cat

      You only press one key for an ellipsis, it looks like this …
      If you use three periods it looks like this …
      In my experience, in the UK, editors always ask for a space before the ellipsis.

    • EllipsesRnotUsedEnough

      Why do people always use periods instead of ellipses. “It’s. Really. Annoying.” Wait…what? Those aren’t complete sentences. I can understand teh use of ellipses instead of periods. It just means that they could keep talking and going on, but instead try to just finish it despite wanting to add more. Makes sense to me…

    • will no

      Irritates the shit out of me when people do it.

      Especially when they’re being really smug and condescending and informing you what an idiot you are…………….

      Like that. GRR!