How Punctuation Can Improve Your English Writing (Part 5)
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In this final part of the punctuation series, let’s consider ellipsis and two kinds of brackets: square and round.
An ellipsis is a set of three dots (…) that are evenly spaced. It’s most commonly used to show omission, i.e. not including some words in a sentence, usually ones that aren’t important.
|to shorten quotations||The rule book clearly states that “members must return any borrowed item ….”|
|to indicate hesitation||See, the thing is … he’s broke.|
Remember, if the ellipsis appears at the end of a sentence, it is placed along with the full stop, making it a series of four dots.
Square brackets can introduce an explanation that provides clarification, or may provide a short translation of a foreign word that appears in a quoted sentence. They may also be used to indicate that the writer feels something in the original material is a possible error.
|to provide clarification||The year I got married  was an important one in my life.|
|to provide short translations of words in quoted materials||Diana says in the interview: “He whispered je t’aime [I love you] as I walked by.”|
|to indicate a possible error||The book says he was born in Venice [Verona?].|
Also known as parentheses, round brackets are mostly used to add extra information; this may be a single word, fragment or complete sentence.
|to provide additional information||The governor (and his family) will attend today’s event.|
|to provide short translations of words||He said cześć (hello) as soon as he saw me.|
|to expand abbreviations or acronyms that the reader may not be familiar with||She became CTO (Chief Technical Officer) of the company in 2012.|
It is worth remembering that the content between brackets should not be grammatical integral to the main sentence.
Punctuation is one of the simplest language features to learn, so use it appropriately; people will think you are being careless if you don’t!