Peeve of the Day: Misuse/Abuse of the Ellipsis

Okay, I'm not grammarian.  I don't have perfect punctuation.  I look up usage all the time.  I also recognize that informal writing has a more relaxed outlook on grammar and punctuation than formal writing.  One of the things I like best about the English language is its adaptability.  All this being said, I have gotten an alarming amout of emails lately that either misuse or abuse the ellipsis (. . .). 

I got an email recently that had not one single period in it.  It was all exclamation points and ellipses.  I'm not a big fan of the exclamation point as it seems somewhat, well, loud.  However, the real objection I have is that an ellipsis should not be used to replace periods.  I defer to my hero, Grammar Girl to explain proper usage of the three (three only - not four or five or 10) dots that make the ellipsis.

This over-dotting is my other complaint about the use of the ellipsis.  I've noticed that people seem to use the dots at their discretion.  I don't know if this is to indicate a longer pause?  But there are other forms of punctuation that can do that without abusing the poor ellipsis.  Perhaps the abundance of dots is for emphasis?  I don't know.  The other possibility is that they don't know that there are rules governing the use of this delightful little device.  This is the most likely answer.

I must not blame the user for the lack of knowledge.  I know I got an above average education.  I realize that many people have not had this advantage.  What I don't understand is why no one cares to find out the things they don't know. 

I look up usage and words all the time because I don't know half of what I should.  I know I'm not alone, but sometimes....... after I gotten another email.............. that makes me want to get out my red pencil.......... I feel like I am.........And it makes me want to scream!!!


hannahjustbreathe said...

Yikes. Now I'm all grammatically self-conscious. Because I kind of like ellipses...


Damn. Double whammy. Extra periods AND exclamation points.


Dorothy said...

I like ellipses, too. That's why I hate to see them abused. A couple of them are great, but when too many and I get addled. You have delightful punctuation. You even use dashes correctly. Bravo.