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Inspired by this question: What is the correct term to use when describing the "three dots" (. . .), ellipsis or ellipses? And are either of these terms considered plural?

For example, if I wanted to say "the x is/are in the wrong location", which sentence is correct?

  1. The ellipsis is in the wrong location.
  2. The ellipsis are in the wrong location.
  3. The ellipses is in the wrong location.
  4. The ellipses are in the wrong location.

My gut instinct would be #4, with #1 a close second. #3 seems likely to be wrong, and #2 is a wild card.

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It depends on context. Have you looked up ellipsis in a dictionary? That should sort out your quandary. – Matt E. Эллен Jun 7 '12 at 13:27
up vote 11 down vote accepted

It is ellipsis because the three dots (. . .) are considered a single punctuation mark. The Cambridge Guide to English Usage says this:

Both grammarians and editors make use of this term. In grammar, ellipsis means the omission of a word or words which would complete or clarify the sentence. In punctuation practice, ellipsis refers to the mark, usually a set of three dots (. . .), which shows where something has been consciously omitted from a quotation.

Edit: You might say 'the ellipsis mark is in the wrong location' to avoid any ambiguity.

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+1 and thank you. That would suggest that sentence #1 is correct: "The ellipsis is in the wrong location.", since ellipsis is singular. Correct? – e.James Sep 10 '10 at 0:27
Yes. I realise I didn't answer the actual question. Sorry. #1 is correct. Further, 'ellipses' would be multiple instances of the ellipsis mark. – J D OConal Sep 10 '10 at 0:30
Since "ellipses" is the plural of "ellipsis", how many dots is that? Is it always a multiple of 3? Or can it be 4 or 5 for example? – tony19 Feb 11 '14 at 20:02
It is always a multiple of 3. Two ellipses would be … … – J D OConal Mar 12 '14 at 1:47
@JDOConal wouldn't ellipses actually be multiple instances of stretched circles? – Ruslan Jun 20 at 12:37

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