Grammar-ease: Ellipsis versus the em-dash

Use of Ellipses can sometimes be confusing. Lisa J. Jackson gives great advice in this article.

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The ellipsis, three dots seen in text, signifies a pause within a character’s dialogue or missing text within quoted material.

The em-dash indicates an interruption in speech or to emphasize a phrase.

The ellipsis is always three dots: “…”.  Always three, no more and no less. Style guidelines vary as to whether or not to use an ending period if the ellipsis is at the end of a sentence. Some guidelines are satisfied with no final period.

The em-dash has history: in the day of the typewriter, an em-dash was represented by double hyphens amounting to the width of a capital “M” from the keyboard. With computers, you can format or insert an em-dash easily and it’s used to indicate an interruption within dialogue, or to emphasize a certain phrase. There is never a space before or after an em-dash.

I find examples helpful, so here are a few.

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C.A. Simonson

C.A. Simonson is a freelance writer and author. Her award-winning short stories have appeared in seven anthologies. The Journey Home trilogy, "Love's Journey Home," "Love Looks Back," and "Love's Amazing Grace," are Christian fiction based on true events. She has also published two anthologies, one of short stories and one of devotions and poems. A children's speller/story coloring book was released in April 2017. Copies are available in paperback and digital format on Amazon, KOBO, iTunes, and Barnes and Noble or at casimonson.com. Books are now available in audio format on audible.com When she is not writing, she is painting, crafting, or fishing.

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