In some style guides, I see this mention of putting a full-stop after an ellipsis when you are stopping the paused sentence and going onto another new sentence, but when reading several very well-known novels, I have just seen either the ellipsis alone or ellipis followed by a SPACE between two sentences so am confused as to whether I should be putting the extra full-stop in and when.

E.g. "I was ashamed...and afraid." Normal pause, so just ellipsis.

But how about:

"I was ashamed...You couldn't understand."

Is the above ok or should it be:

"I was ashamed... You couldn't understand." SPACE AFTER ELLIPSIS.

How about:

"I am not sure if I will ever be able to forgive him­...."

If this is the end of the character's thought, are we supposed to add the extra full-stop?

If not, when do we use it and do authors really use it? I rarely see it.

Thanks so much to anyone who has an idea!

As an aside, I see some authors use small letters after the ellipsis even when they are starting a new clause or sentence, rather than capitals to start a new sentence.

E.g. "I was ashamed...you couldn't understand."

Is the above also acceptable?

2 Answers 2


E.g. "I was ashamed...and afraid." Normal pause, so just ellipsis.

You need spaces before and after ellipsis and in-between. Some rules don't require spaces in between. Punctuation rules are the most flexible ones.

"I was ashamed... You couldn't understand." SPACE AFTER ELLIPSIS.

Spaces before and after ellipsis, please.

"I am not sure if I will every (typo) be able to forgive him­...."

If the ellipsis is used to replace words at the end of a sentence, you need a full stop. In the above sentence, I guess you are replacing "for what he did to me" or something with ellipsis. Then, you need to put a full stop.

E.g. "I was ashamed...you couldn't understand."

The reason you doesn't start with a capital letter is the clause is a part of the complex sentence, ellipsis is replacing "that" for a pause.

The below link seems to be helpful. Again, punctuation rules are not very strict.


Hope it helps.

  • Thank you! Just to be sure, are you saying that if I had written: "I am not sure if I will ever be able to....", then because the ellipsis replaces a word and it's the end of the thought, then adding the full-stop would be appropriate? I recently read a very well-known novel sold by the millions which had no spaces before any ellipses. Would this fall under the category of punctuation not being that strict and different authors doing what they want pretty much as long as it's consistent?
    – MoniqueH
    Sep 29, 2015 at 6:58
  • 1. Yes, you cannot omit words after be able to unless it is used before. It is quite subjective. 2. Books need to save cost. What better way than getting rid of spaces? They would love to get rid of "ALL" spaces if they can sell the same number. 3. Punctualtion is rather a style than a rule. As long as we don't have any difficulty in understanding a sentence, what the heck. Right?
    – user140086
    Sep 29, 2015 at 7:05
  • Thanks! I am realizing more and more what you just said--that punctuation is style rather than rule. It's been quite eye-opening. I was expecting really strict rules when I went into writing my novel! Thanks again.
    – MoniqueH
    Sep 29, 2015 at 7:15

The Chicago Manual of Style distinguishes between an ellipsis, the omission of words in quoted text, and a suspension, the indication of faltering speech. Both use the punctuation mark called ellipsis points, the familiar dot-dot-dot. The rules for quotations are stringent to make sure that text quoted in part is fair to the entire source passage. There are two schools of thought--one that distinguishes between omissions within sentences and omissions between sentences and one that doesn't so distinguish.

Your examples are suspensions, and CMOS would recommend ellipsis points without spaces for all of them. The editors do not comment on internal capitalization. But remember to use a comma to separate speech from the speaker:

"I am not sure if I will ever be able to forgive him­...," she said, her voice trailing off.

  • Thank you so much! I guess that if they are suspensions, that means that we also don't need a space if we start a new sentence right after? E.g. I felt ashamed...You wouldn't understand." Is this ok without a space before YOU?
    – MoniqueH
    Sep 29, 2015 at 8:18
  • @MoniqueH Correct.
    – deadrat
    Sep 29, 2015 at 8:21

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