Sign up ×
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.

I am sure that this wouldn't have much meaning, but still want to get acknowledged whether usage of double dots is formal.

I have observed people using double dots in business Emails. Usually while adding additional recipients to the thread. example:

Adding XYZ..

I would like to know the specific meaning of it.

In the world of music, placing double dots .. infront of note is a shortcut, it signifies addition of its next level note.

EDIT: Does it specify an infinite Pause? Infinite .. I mean by unsure (not never ending).

In general case, if I use this .. in my statement what would it mean?

share|improve this question
It would be helpful to see an expanded example of what you mean. –  Barrie England Mar 8 '12 at 8:21
@BarrieEngland, agreeable. Please add it as an answer. Thanks. –  InfantPro'Aravind' Mar 8 '12 at 8:42
I agree with Barrie, infant programmer 'Aravind', you need add an expanded example into your question so that the people trying to answer have a better idea how to help you. –  Matt E. Эллен Mar 8 '12 at 8:50
@infant programmer 'Aravind': Well, I can't see how two dots can ever mean anything different to three dots - so it seems to me it's just a nonstandard way of writing the ellipsis. It looks as if you're hoping to be told it's got some specialised meaning, and that you can validly use the two- and three-dot forms within the same passage of writing, expecting others to recognise your distinction. I just don't think you can, so if your specific usage isn't covered in the original question then it should be. We don't need another separate question here just for two dots, imho. –  FumbleFingers Mar 12 '12 at 12:41
@FumbleFingers, Understood. :) So you believe ellipsis and double-dots are same? well. Thank you. –  InfantPro'Aravind' Mar 12 '12 at 13:50

8 Answers 8

up vote 8 down vote accepted

As far as I know, double dots isn't actually an established punctuation mark (unlike the three-dot ellipsis) but you can see it a lot in informal written online communications.

I think that it comes from overuse of the ellipsis. The ellipsis is overused in emails/facebok statuses/chats because it's a rather vague and unspecific mark when people sort of ramble with their thoughts and don't frame them in well-defined sentences. I'm not saying this critically or pejoratively, just an observation on the less formally structured form of online communications.

So the double-dot, I believe, represents a grass-roots construction that's like a less-dramatic and drastic ellipsis. Shorter pauses, perhaps. Less meandering and long-winded. :)

share|improve this answer
thank you for your valuable opinion :) –  InfantPro'Aravind' Mar 8 '12 at 8:37
I find you answer interesting and agreeable. I will wait for some more responses.. before declaring Best answer :) –  InfantPro'Aravind' Mar 8 '12 at 8:41

A legitimate use of dots is in a quotation from which a part is missing. This piece of punctuation is, as others have said, ellipsis and normally consists of three dots. The only place I have seen two dots is in quotations in the Oxford English Dictionary, where they are used to save space.

share|improve this answer
I wonder if a double-dot isn't meant to be a shorthand version of the ellipsis, being informally adapted in text messages, which are limited to 160 characters. (An 3-dot ellipsis can be a rather "expensive" punctuation mark, taking up nearly 2% of the allotted characters in a message). Just wondering aloud.. –  J.R. Mar 8 '12 at 10:07
@J.R. Possibly, but you may want to develop that into an answer. –  Barrie England Mar 8 '12 at 11:16
Note that the OED uses two mid··dots, not two full..stops, for their special form of ellipsis. –  tchrist Dec 2 '12 at 17:04
@J.R. That's technically unnecessary because there is an ellipsis character in unicode, which would use even less space: … However, without specifying the number, most people use periods regardless simply because they are more accessible on the keyboard and the main practical difference is character wraparound. –  Tonepoet Aug 30 at 2:09

A double dot is also used in mathematics for integer intervals (e.g., [−1..2] denotes the set {−1, 0, 1, 2}). It is also used in several programming languages to for similar concepts.

share|improve this answer
thank you very much! –  InfantPro'Aravind' Dec 2 '12 at 14:05

As a young copywriter, I first noticed use of the two-dot ellipsis as a space saver in Sears Roebuck's 1964 catalogs.

share|improve this answer
Is there an example of that? –  user57234 Jun 30 '13 at 8:13

I haven't seen double dots, but an ellipsis (three dots) is quite common.

As an ellipsis is usually used in English to indicate an omission, my assumption is that this originally came about when the writer wanted to explain the addition of the extra recipients etc., and has become common through use.

share|improve this answer
Yes. Ellipsis signifies something unknown or unsure. Double dot may be.. a pause? :) –  InfantPro'Aravind' Mar 8 '12 at 8:39

An ellipsis (...) is used to denote that something is being left out of the sentence in formal writing, or someone's voice or thought that is fading in informal writing.

The two dots are used by people that don't understand that there are supposed to be three dots. They think, by leaving out one of the dots, they're being smart because it doesn't mark the end of a sentence. In reality, the three dots mean it isn't the end of the sentence, and the four dots mean it does. The three dots represent trailing off or leaving something out in the middle of a sentence. The four dots represent fading or leaving something out at the end of a sentence. That's a little confusing so I'll give you an example.

People that use two dots -

Middle of a sentence: I don't know what you want to be..for Halloween.

End of a sentence: I don't have plans...What are you doing for Halloween?

What it's supposed to look like -

Middle of a sentence: I don't know what you want to be...for Halloween.

End of a sentence: I don't have plans....What are you doing for Halloween?

Same thing would happen if you had an explanation point or question mark.

People that use two dots -

End of a sentence: I don't..have plans. What are you doing for Halloween..?

What it's supposed to look like -

End of a sentence: I don't...have plans. What are you doing for Halloween...?

The two dots don't have a real meaning, it's just used online by people that think they know what they're doing. Sorry if I sound bitter, but this is actually one of my biggest pet peeves. =D

share|improve this answer
Ellipsis, not elipse –  Charles Oct 31 '13 at 17:58
This is one of your biggest pet peeves? My question is why, when as you say, there is no real meaning to two dots otherwise? why skip over two dots and require three, and then four, or three plus the punctuation mark? Because of convention that has since lost its purpose, or is there a better reason that I'm naive to? –  broken-e Jan 1 at 11:32

In your example it seems to be a misuse of double dots. To my understanding, double dots is used for leaving out something from within a sentence to clarify the difference between when something is left out from within a sentence (double dots) and when something is left out that includes more than one sentence (three dots).

On the other hand, grammar is a fluid thing. Unless you are writing formally, it's fine to have quite a bit of variation.

share|improve this answer
This answer needs substantiation in the form of reliable sources. According to this article, three dots are standard, except that the (huge) OED, which consists largely of quotations, is forced to use two dots as a space-saving device. –  MετάEd Aug 24 '13 at 16:14
Welcome to ELU & thanks for your contribution. Please note that answers in this site are generally expected to be substantiated by a recognised authority. Hence I have to ask, where did "your understanding" come from? This is especially so, because most of the other answers directly contradict your assertion here. –  TrevorD Aug 24 '13 at 16:16

3 dots is formally correct to skip parts of a sentence or paragraph when quoting another party for an essay Eg. "The mountain had crystals in it...above the clouds was a rainbow." Because you don't need to write the whole paragraph you're trying to give evidence.

2 dots to me is an informal and cute way of implying there is something else to say except philosophically you don't need to say it at that moment so it's more of a short-cut and yes 2 dots is quicker that 3 since 3 means something else formally any-way. 2 dots is a short 3 And us developing its own meaning. Graphically it's different and to me it reflects how the person is writing. Définitely our writing, the way we communicate in our lives and the way we communicate is changing.

So I agree with how 2 dots is a quick shorten mid sentence to cut it all short when you actually don't know what's next or want to keep it open. It's more poetic and a modern thing with social media, iPhones and emails. When you want to be brief and are implying something else. I think it's grammatical implication and meaning is developing.

I use 4 dots for a similar poetic meaning like when you are ending something with an indefinite thought at the end, more of an artistic label Eg. With love.... Sometimes 8 for lots of love........x

So shortened 2 dots is like a short pause and think when there's no time to get further into it and its left open ended. 3 dots is a formal gap with a meaning of omission in formal writing or meaning you have left out what us to come. 4 dots is an ending, provoking more thought. 3 dots you can also use correctly to change's the most formally correct if youre writing properly.

From what Ive experienced and studied in language, literacy, grammatical and literature.

I think there is a new place for 2 dots and agree some people will misuse it for the formally correct 3 dots. 2 dots I would use for more of a thought or conversation informally. When Im not committing to make a formal '...' statement. Like if texting with a friend while shopping e.g. "Do you like the pink dress?" "It's alright.. Maybe lets go to Bondi?" So this means Im still deciding, part way through and unsure. I could more formally write "It's alright...maybe lets go to Bondi?" To me this is more définitive. It's 2 différent ways of texting/writing/communicating and a différent style of writing.

We use 2 dots knowing 3 dors us correct so, it does havé a meaning and place whether it not it is misused!

I was editing a surf photography website and 2 dots were put in as opposed to 3 and it was in association to a dream and love it was so poetic, and spoke to me, I couldn't change it.

Josie thanks! That helps!

share|improve this answer

protected by tchrist Aug 30 at 1:23

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

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