Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The quote goes:

So next time someones complains that you have made a mistake, tell them that may be a good thing, because without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.

I only want the last part:

Without imperfection neither you nor I would exist.

Would I write it like so, or use an ellipsis at the start:

. . . Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.

I guess that if I used an ellipsis, it wouldn’t have a capital letter on without, would it?

share|improve this question
    
I don't know where "the quote" comes from in this case, but why bother with the ellipsis for a bit you don't want? We don't do it before or after every snippet of Shakespeare we "quote". –  FumbleFingers Aug 31 '13 at 2:06
2  
@FumbleFingers Haven’t you noticed . . . that people . . . today . . . tend to use . . . ellipses . . . all over the . . . fricking place . . . with wanton abandon . . . ? –  tchrist Aug 31 '13 at 2:14
1  
@tchrist: I am intrigued by what elided words all your ellipses represent, to reduce to such a wonderful whole sentence –  Pieter Geerkens Aug 31 '13 at 2:17
    
Is that quote from Thomas Watson Jr. by any chance? (goodreads.com/author/quotes/800603.Thomas_J_Watson_Jr_ and thinkexist.com/quotes/thomas_j._watson) –  Pieter Geerkens Aug 31 '13 at 2:18
    
show 2 more comments

2 Answers

Instead of an ellipsis, you can use square brackets to indicate light editing in a quotation. They are often used to add minor clarifications or make the quoted text better fit the context, and they're specifically used for the case you're asking about:

Additionally, a small letter can be replaced by a capital one, when the beginning of the original text is omitted for succinctness, for example, when referring to a verbose original.

For example: “[W]ithout imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.”

share|improve this answer
add comment

For me: "... without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist."

share|improve this answer
    
Please explain why. In my view, it would depend on context. Following OP's question, your suggestion would be incorrect at the beginning of a sentence because there would be no capital letter. In mid-sentence, if the quotation begins with a small letter it is obviously mid-sentence in the original and so an ellipsis is superfluous. In many cases an ellipsis is necessary only when words are omitted in the middle of a quotation. –  TrevorD Aug 31 '13 at 11:35
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.