Calling all English Majors: […]?


1) There’s: “
2) There’s: ” /
3) There’s: “[…]


1) The Ellipsis: The ellipsis mark consists of three periods separated by spaces. When used in the middle of a sentence, it is almost always preceded and followed by a space, as well. When creating ellipses in a word processor or similar program, it is best to use non-breaking spaces.

2) The Slash: A slash is often used to separate two or three lines of poetry that are run into text in order to designate where the original line breaks occurred. Add a space (or a half space, if in desktop publishing programs) before and after the slash when it is used in this way. (Note to Self: Didn’t realize that you needed to add the space before and after the slash.)

3) The “[…] is called what?

Which I have come across in following recent readings:

1) Joseph Epstein in a Literary Education and Other Essays writes:

“a sense of higher purpose: a belief which X considered ‘the opiate of the masses. . . .‘”

(Noted he uses 4 periods with spaces)

2) Christian Wiman in My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer writes:

“The poem posits a place ‘where the hum of time / no longer wearies us,” or

“I lose / courage but courage is not lost.”

3) MetaphorforMetaphor shares this poem:

Now, when you awaken, remember the swan’s last
dance. Did you dance with cherubs while
you were dreaming? Did the butterfly illuminate you
when it burned with the eternal light of the rose? Did
the phoenix appear to you clearly…and did it call you
by name? Did you see the dawn rise
out of your beloved’s fingers? And did you touch the dream
by hand, or did you let the dream dream alone,
when you became aware of your absence suddenly?
Tell me how you lived your dream
in some place, and I’ll tell you who you are

~ Mahmoud Darwish, Now, When You Awaken, Remember”

The symbol “[…]” is called what? An ‘Excerpt?’ And appropriately used when?


  1. pilgrim57 says:

    Not sure if this helps, but Martha at English Language and Usage ( ) states “Square brackets are used in quotes to mark information that was not in the original quote. This applies equally to added words and omitted words.” There is also much information on the ellipsis at Wikipedia ( ) including the bracket ellipsis.


  2. From Wikipedia’s Manual of Style”

    Square brackets, however, may optionally be used for precision, to make it clear that the ellipsis is not itself quoted; this is usually only necessary if the quoted passage also uses three periods in it to indicate a pause or suspension. The ellipsis should follow exactly the principles given above, but with square brackets inserted immediately before and after it (Her long rant continued: “How do I feel? How do you think I … look, this has gone far enough! […] I want to go home!”).

    IMHO, this is just WAY to complicated. Better living through less punctuation.


  3. Right.
    Next question…


  4. i am horrible about following punctuation conventions and many literary conventions as a whole, and i am at peace with that. )


  5. In example 3, I think that […] symbolises the mystery of the absence, for which there’s no word to be found. I reckon it’s a sort of question mark on a deeper level than a normal question and one that might be unanswerable.

    Just guessing as I’m a mere writer but not an English Major who often does strange things with symbols, my favourite being ~ that I sometimes use for on either side of the first line in a haiku when it’s an in-the-air phrase that requires particular focus, or in the pivot line 3 of a tanka.


  6. PS Whoops, did you spot the ambiguity at the beginning of the second paragraph in my comment above? Just to confirm what I meant to say — I meant that it’s me and not the English Major that does strange things with symbols! And that just goes to prove how important it is to proof read and edit a first draft of anything you write.


  7. As others have already mentioned, I believe it’s used to mark a part of the writing that has been left out. I do editing all day long, but not at a level that requires me to know the meaning of every symbol. I’ve run across that one myself before though, and it clearly has been used to mark the place where some lines of writing have been left out.


    • OK Carol. We have some help up and down the conga comment line here. Very helpful readers/followers. I’ve learned something today. Including that you have this one mark in otherwise perfect DNA.


  8. #&^%*&^&^@$@%%…%(*&(&*@#$@ 😀


  9. I’m much more in tune to grammatical correctness. It drives me absolutely batty when people use the word “their” when the correct form is “there”, for example.


  10. Oh…. David…!!!
    (I’m at a loss)]]]….. To know … What to say!!!
    […]. Therefore — I won’t…..
    Have a great day! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Modern Language Association says that “if an ellipsis is meant to represent an omission, square brackets must surround the ellipsis to make it clear that there was no pause in the original quote: [ . . . ]” So why don’t we call it squabrellipsis. Short and nice.


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