2

I want to use an ellipsis to indicate a sentence is being interrupted. That point of interruption happens to be right after an appositive which has commas around it. Does the second comma get omitted or does it stay?

A: The owner, Carl...
B: The owner, Carl,...

The second way seems more correct, but it looks funny.

4

Ellipses can sometimes be confused as trailing off rather than an interruption in dialogue. The em dash is more clearly recognizable as an interruption. Also, it's a lot easier to see an interruption if it's in the middle of a word. I would use:

"The owner, Carl, w--"

If you're sure you want to use ellipses, and you want the comma, then put a space between them. The ",..." looks like you either made a typo or are trying to invent a new weird punctuation mark. I like the look of this better:

"The owner, Carl, ..."

  • I agree with this. My own answer assumes that the space will be there after the comma. The ellipsis replaces text, not elements of the structure that introduce the text. – Anton Aug 1 '15 at 5:51
  • Answers beginning / including 'I would' etc are rarely satisfactory on ELU, coming across as (and often being) no more than personal opinion rather than accepted practice. There need to be reasonable references at least recommending a suggested style. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 22 '17 at 11:46
1

If you're writing this (as a work of fiction, particularly) you have some idea of how the sentence might have continued had it not been interrupted. But if a sentence really is interrupted no-one listening will know, at that point, how the sentence was intended to continue. The comma after Carl is only there to make sense of what comes after. But nothing does.

So it's my contention that the ellipsis cuts off the flow before the comma, which is therefore inappropriate.

(A comma also represents a pause, but not one quite as long as an ellipsis, so again, it's unnecessary.)

  • The sentence will actually be completed later on, so does that change your opinion? – BladePoint Jul 30 '15 at 20:06
  • @BladePoint. "The sentence will actually be completed later on, so does that change your opinion?" No. The ellipsis stands in for the comma. Also, at the point in question, you can only punctuate what is said. You can't punctuate what will be said some time after. I think. – Margana Jul 30 '15 at 21:08
  • Answers beginning / including 'I would' etc are rarely satisfactory on ELU, coming across as (and often being) no more than personal opinion rather than accepted practice. There need to be reasonable references at least recommending a suggested style. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 22 '17 at 11:45
0

Second one is definitely the correct one. You will understand it better once you see example sentences.

The owner, Carl was trying to hire more workers.

The owner, (who was) Carl, was trying to hire more workers.

The second one is rather explaining who Carl is than interrupting the sentence to inform what the name of the owner is.

The first one sounds more natural and complete. Even though you can use the first example in case you want to, I definitely suggest that you use the first one if it is to be used as an interruption.

  • Clearly, if you're writing out the entire sentence, you need both commas; nobody is questioning that. However, if you're leaving out most of the sentence, and indicating this fact with ellipses, then why should the grammar of the omitted part have any relevance? – Marthaª Jul 30 '15 at 20:17
  • Answers beginning / including 'I would' etc are rarely satisfactory on ELU, coming across as (and often being) no more than personal opinion rather than accepted practice. There need to be reasonable references at least recommending a suggested style. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 22 '17 at 11:46
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I, on the other hand from sooeithdk, regard the first as misleading, almost completely wrong. And why? Because Carl does not stand in any sort of equivalence to the clause that follows the comma. The sentence is not a parallel to the following type of constructions, where the single comma makes sense:

After the death, Carl was trying to hire more workers.

During the strike, Carl was trying to hire more workers.

Standing on a beer barrel, Carl was tryimg to hire more workers.

Carrying a pink parasol, Carl was trying to hire more workers.

I therefore prefer your second construct because it clearly equates "Carl" to "the owner". The use of both commas rather than one parallels the parenthetical sentence "Carl (the owner) was trying to hire more workers." This makes the meaning entirely clear.

  • But surely, the point of the ellipsis is that, at that moment of interruption, the meaning is not clear. – Margana Jul 30 '15 at 21:12
  • The ellipsis replaces text. It does not replace elements of the grammatical structure that introduce the missing text. All you need to do is to leave a space after the comma, as is discussed elsewhere for this question. – Anton Aug 1 '15 at 5:54
  • Answers beginning / including 'I would' etc are rarely satisfactory on ELU, coming across as (and often being) no more than personal opinion rather than accepted practice. There need to be reasonable references at least recommending a suggested style. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 22 '17 at 11:46
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I would omit the comma if you are replacing it with a dash or ellipsis.

Why? Because the comma and ellipsis both indicate pauses when speaking, and you don't typically double up punctuation of the same type. For example, the ellipsis represents a pause. But you don't keep adding dots to lengthen it (although that's a common mistake to see), and you don't combine it with a dash to indicate a longer pause.

Even if you add the rest of the sentence later, that doesn't mean you should keep the comma. Punctuation is not deferred in my experience. It represents something immediately connected to the word it's next to or surrounding. So if you're writing dialogue, and you cut a sentence off because another character interrupts, you would use punctuation that fits what the other characters actually "heard", not what might have been correct if the sentence had completed in its entirety.

  • Answers beginning / including 'I would' etc are rarely satisfactory on ELU, coming across as (and often being) no more than personal opinion rather than accepted practice. There need to be reasonable references at least recommending a suggested style. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 22 '17 at 11:47

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