When skipping part of the sentence or paragraph in a direct quote, it is common to use the ellipsis (...)

There are two ways of misunderstanding a poem ... the other to praise it for qualities that it does not possess.

How should the ellipses (skipped part of the quote) be spoken when read out loud or simply during conversation?

Would the reading simply continue without any acknowledgement of the ellipses? If so, in cases where it is important to acknowledge the presence of the skipped part, is there any established norm, or verbal cue to help communicate that part of the quote was skipped?

  • 1
    In Italian this is called 'omissis' which describes exactly a chunk of text that was left out (there is also 'omissione' in Italian with broader meaning, similar to 'omission'). 'Omitted text' seems to be a way to call this representation of missing text from an original version, in English. If the text still makes sense, I would simply read through assuming that the omission was meant to achieve brevity. If it is a legal text or the remaining text lose its meaning, then I would probably say aloud that there is some omitted text, but I'm not sure on what's a common way to say so in English. Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 23:07
  • Reading this out would be infelicitous. Not all ellipses are sanctionable. Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 18:26

4 Answers 4


For me, I might pause, I might carry on without a pause, I might say "dot dot dot" or three short "hmm hmm hmm" to denote that there's an ellipses. For reference, I speak Canadian English, but I hear a lot of Americans doing this too.


Pausing: Short Pause

Introduce the Skill (10 minutes)

Say: When we talk we do not run all our words together. Instead, we pause, or rest, between some words. The pause may be very short, or the pause may be longer. Pausing helps us divide our sentences into meaningful parts. Pausing helps our listeners understand what we are saying, too. In reading, the punctuation helps us figure out when to pause. Some kinds of punctuations that signal a short pause are a comma, dash, semicolon, colon, and an ellipsis. We take a little break at a comma before reading on. We take a little longer break at a dash, semicolon, colon, or an ellipsis before reading on.

What I find fascinating about this suggestion for reading an ellipsis aloud (as a slightly longer pause) is that it's Lesson 4 in Fifteen Fluency Mini-lessons for Grade 3 Readers (2009) p.12. I'm thinking I should read all the lessons.

The one solution I personally would not adopt is to continue reading with no pause whatsoever (or verbalization of some kind). That is an invitation to miscomprehension. The OP's example would make no sense if read aloud without a pause.


Depends on the reason for the ellipses. If it's trailing off, like losing your thought or being uncertain, then just trail your voice off or give an uncertain intonation.

If it's just omitting some words, then I say ellipsis with a slight pause before & after the spoken word - if I'm talking to well educated-seeming people. If not, or if it's a big or diverse crowd - I just say "dot, dot, dot." Or, if the passage is a bit harder to make sense of with the omission, I just say, "omitted text" or (pick one) "words/paragaph/sentence", etc. "omitted here".


This is nice. In Portuguese is elipse. In Italian is elisse; omissis is Latin, also used in Portuguese, but out of the "figures of speech" area.

Also, when an ellipsis occurs with a verb, we say "zeugma". When we combine an ellipsis with hyperbole (Google Translate did not help; it is not "hyperbole" as the opposite of euphemism... Well, you can assume hyperbole <=> inversion here), there is syneresis.

And, considering all above, the answer is “no”. When reading aloud, or talking; i.e., using not your thumb and a pen, but your phonetic apparatus (mouth, tongue etc) it is not only impossible (no grammatical rule is able to justify the possibility to reproduce phonetically what does not exist [ellipsis does "skip" any word, actually there is no word, right?]).

The communication goes smoothly due to ideological cohesion (deixis, being more accurate).

  • In Italian we use the Latin word 'omissis' or 'puntini di sospensione' if you want to describe the punctuation mark. 'Ellisse' is just an oval shape. In some legal or leaked document the 'omissis' are so many that you would need to way to convey this phonetically when reading aloud and I'm pretty sure that I had been watching some Italian tv program where a journalist would read it out as 'omissis'. But I'm not sure how that would be in English. Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 10:08
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    There's no standard way of saying it, as this answer says. If the ellipsis is important, you can indicate when reading using whatever method makes most sense, for instance saying "a section is omitted", or describing what is being skipped. You might say "redacted", or less formally "skipping ahead" or even "blah blah blah"/"la la la" to indicate an unimportant bit if you don't mind being a bit rude. A TV/film/radio/video interview with redactions will use tricks like cuts, fades, etc, to indicate omission.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 10:36

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