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This is something I find myself doing quite frequently, but I don't know if it's correct. Whenever I want to end a sentence in a "sad" or "depressing" tone, I usually add ellipsis at the end of the sentence. Here's one:

"Someone stole my bag today..."

As I already know, an ellipsis can be used to indicate phrases being left out, and that's not what I'm trying to do in my example. With that said, is there any rule that says what I'm trying to do is correct? Or is it just wrong?

  • It's an attempt to insert some intonation into writing. We have only a few punctuation marks to express infinite shades of intonation in the spoken language, which carries a vast amount of the information we communicate. – John Lawler Nov 30 '16 at 18:13
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    It's not wrong, but you may not be giving your readers enough information to sense your intended meaning. One trick is to tell your readers everything that they need to know, and then end your sentence with an ellipsis to indicate that there is more that could be said: "Someone stole my bag today, and you can guess how cross it made me feel..." – Mick Nov 30 '16 at 18:31
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    I cannot hear the OP speak this phrase, and I am unaware of any source that suggests that an ellipsis indicates a different "intonation" than a period. IMO, the ellipsis here makes sense only if it is followed with some definite explanation for its use, as in " 'Someone stole my bag today ..., ' he said, not finishing his sentence." Otherwise, this a declarative sentence, and virtually all style, grammar, and usage guides that I'm familiar with would suggest a period. – user66965 Nov 30 '16 at 19:49
  • One trick is to use . . . vs .... Or maybe add even more spaces. This conveys more of a sense of the words just trailing off, which I presume is the sense you wish to convey. – Hot Licks Dec 31 '16 at 2:51
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Ellipses are properly used in most forms of writing to represent omitted information. Historically, they started as dashes to represent missing information. You may have read old books (or some new) that throw in three short dashed or one long dash to denote missing information. Such as "In 19---, Ellen dated D--- for two years before courting John."

Today, they are often used informally to attempt to add character, inflection or emotion in a sentence. I personally find it annoying on emails, but it is widespread in informal writing.

You will rarely see ellipses misused in any formal writing, however. So I would recommend breaking the habit...

Read up at wikipedia to learn more about ellipses: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellipsis

  • Today, they are often used informally to attempt to add character, inflection or emotion in a sentence Says who? References? Examples? – Alan Carmack Dec 1 '16 at 0:24
  • It's in the referenced Wikipedia article under the heading " On the Internet and in text messaging " which also mentions use in comic books in the mid 20th century and it's affect on modern usage, especially on the Internet. – Tallima Jan 1 '17 at 1:21

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