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In a sentence where I'm listing a bunch of things in the following manner:

I still have to do so many chores, such as cleaning the toilet, taking out the garbage, doing the dishes, ...

Does one use a comma before the triple dots? This is how I'm used to doing it, but recently it's been pointed out to me it should be without the comma, like so:

I still have to do so many chores, such as cleaning the toilet, taking out the garbage, doing the dishes...

Maybe they're both valid? It may be worth mentioning that I'm writing a scientific master's thesis, just to provide some situational context.

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    How about using etcetera (etc.) instead of the dots?
    – wythagoras
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 20:48
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    In my opinion that is not the proper use of an ellipsis. In an instance such as that I would use etc. - ...doing the dishes etc. An ellipsis is used to indicate that a word or words, which otherwise belong there, have been missed out for brevity's sake. This usually arises with a quotation, where you do not wish to reproduce something in its entirety, only the most salient part(s), e.g. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth...and God said, Let there be light.... The dots indicate that words in between have been omitted, also at the end.
    – WS2
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 20:51
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    @Babyburger, in regards to using a comma before etc., that comes down to a matter of personal preference (kind of - but we will not get into the oxford comma debate here). Treat etc. as another member of the list, so if you would normally use the oxford comma (a comma before the final member of a list), do so. I personally highly recommend use of the oxford comma.
    – Cameron
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 17:29

2 Answers 2

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The comma should not be used before the ellipsis as a comma is used to indicate a short pause, whereas an ellipsis indicates a longer pause trailing off into nothingness. Thus the comma is redundant. I am not aware of any situation where it is proper to place a comma before an ellipsis. Think of it like putting a comma before a period, even if you are listing off members of a very long list, it does not make sense to put two punctuation marks to indicate a pause.

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You should not use an ellipsis like this in formal writing, as backed up by Grammarly. (The exception, of course, is when indicating a portion of a direct quote has been removed.) You don't need to include any special punctuation here; "such as" already indicates that you are only planning to give a list of examples, so you can just write "such as X, Y, and Z." And "for example" is a good synonym if you want to spice up your word choice a little. Formal writing tends to discourage the other alternatives, such as ending the list with "etc" or "and so on" since they are a little informal. (But again, including either of those would be redundant if you're also starting the list with "such as" or "for example".)

There are few styles guides dedicated to other types of writing (e.g. novel writing, where there are ellipses aplenty), and I couldn't find anything that addressed this in particular. But I think the rules for formal writing work just as well in that context too, specifically this one:

Omit any punctuation on either side of the ellipsis, unless the punctuation is necessary to make the shortened quotation grammatically correct. — The Punctuation Guide

This would mean that you would omit the comma:

I still have to do so many chores, such as cleaning the toilet, taking out the garbage, doing the dishes...

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