Using an ellipsis

Learning focus

To use ellipsis effectively in your own creative writing.

In this lesson there are:

  • two videos

  • three activities

Learn

Three dots. No more, no less.

Remind yourself of what an ellipsis is and the ways it can be used by watching this video.

How to use an ellipsis

For a more detailed understanding of the different ways that an ellipsis can be used, watch this video.

How to use an ellipsis

An ellipsis can be used for different purposes and can be very useful in your writing.

  1. It can be used to show a word or words that have been removed from a sentence or quote.

Example: ‘The space station has a cracked window… dangerous.’ Here, ‘this is very dangerous’ has been removed and replaced by an ellipsis and only the word 'dangerous'.

  1. When a character finishes a sentence in their head, or their thought trails off.

Example: If your grown-ups ask you if you have tidied your room, you might reply, “Well I was going to…”. Here, the ellipsis has finished the sentence and replaced “but I haven’t”.

  1. To create suspense by adding a pause before the end of the sentence.

Example: ‘The hero saved the day, for now…’

Practise

You may need paper and a pen or pencil for some of these activities.

Activity 1

Test your knowledge of how an ellipsis is used by completing the 'fill the gaps' activity.

Activity 2

Watch this clip.

'The Iron Man' by Ted Hughes

Write a paragraph, that includes an ellipsis, to describe the Iron Man's appearance at the top of the cliff.

Remember, you can use an ellipsis in different ways to:

  • show the trailing off of a thought
  • add suspense
  • show where part of the sentence was removed

For example

The Iron Man stood towering at the top of the cliff. Where had he come from? Nobody knows... Mysterious. The Iron Man's eyes showed he was deep in thought; he knew what he was here to do but…Those sleeping below did not know the doom looking down upon them...

Top tips!

Furthermore, an ellipsis can sometimes be used to:

  • show a jump forward in time within your story
  • introduce a character flashback
  • leave a cliffhanger

Activity 3

Use the picture below as inspiration to write a spooky short story (or story opening).

In your writing, try to use an ellipsis for at least three of the following purposes.

To:

  • leave a cliffhanger
  • add suspense
  • show thoughts trailing off
  • introduce a character flashback
  • show where part of the sentence was removed
  • leave a cliffhanger at the end of a paragraph

Where next?

In this lesson you have used ellipsis effectively in your own creative writing.

There are other useful articles on Bitesize to help you to understand more about using an ellipsis, apostrophes and commas:

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