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Having read a style guide recently, I was under the impression that you don't add commas after the ellipsis when the ellipsis indications pauses or thoughts trailing off, followed by "he says" or the like.

E.g.

"If only I had known..." she whispered. "If I'd known, I would have never..." he says, his voice going quiet.

However, I've recently seen several novels which stick a comma after the ellipsis. E.g.

"If only I had known...," she whispered.

"If I'd known, I would have never...," he says, his voice going quiet.

Does anyone have an opinion about which is correct?

I also have a question about spaces before the ellipsis. I see books with and without the space and have heard different opinions on the subject.

Is this correct:

"If only I had known..."

Or should it have been:

"If only I had known ..."

Thank you for any advice.

closed as primarily opinion-based by MetaEd, ab2, NVZ, Chenmunka, tchrist Aug 2 '16 at 13:53

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    No need for commas there. Some people who try hard to come off as original end up coming off as merely pretentious, is all. – Ricky Oct 22 '15 at 6:11
  • No need? Sez who? – deadrat Oct 22 '15 at 6:16
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    Says someone with impeccable taste. – Ricky Oct 22 '15 at 6:22
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    "If only I had known...," she whispered. It's standard punctuation to place a comma at the end of a quote, within the quotation marks, to separate the quotation from the attribution. Eg, "I already knew that," he said. The writer is simply maintaining that style. No great sin has been perpetrated. – Hot Licks Oct 22 '15 at 8:15
  • Excellent question. Many aspects of punctuation are opinions, but there can also be general consensus on particular opinions. In the real world, judgements are frequently made based on what opinions prevail. I never agree with Hot Licks, but I do in this case. – Zan700 Mar 16 at 22:51
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Punctuation is a matter of style, and you should be guided by your manual of style. There isn't any absolute right or wrong. I use The Chicago Manual of Style, which recommends using the comma to separate the speech from the speaker. It also recommends space (3-to-em) around each of the points used in quoted text, but the applies that typography to its examples of faltering speech.

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The ellipsis is punctuation, representing a kind of pause, so it's redundant to add another punctuation mark. Think of other similar situations, such as where quoted speech ends with a ? or !: a comma after either of those would be out of place.

  • I often see ellipsis followed by a full stop/period. i.e. I wonder if he even cares.... That means you can have a punctuation mark after it. I've also seen the ellipsis followed by a comma in dialogue. I'm seeing there are some differing views. – MoniqueH Nov 30 '15 at 9:28
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It is a matter of personal preference. Nothing's written in stone. Styles change, and those who change them are called humans.

That said, an ellipsis immediately followed by a comma looks silly.

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