Ellipses ( . . . ) are formed by three equally-spaced dots, with a space in between each dot. In formal writing, ellipses are often used to indicate where the writer omitted words from an original quote. Ellipses can also be used to show hesitation or lapse in thought. This second function is very common in informal writing, such as in email and on Facebook, but can be irritating if overused. Here are a few examples of how to use the ellipses.
- To show omission from quoted material
In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling writes, "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."
Use ellipses to keep the meaning of the quote but to omit the word Harry.
It is our choices . . . that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
- To indicate a pause or break in speech
I believe that we have three . . . maybe four volunteers.
The slash is found under the question mark on the keyboard. It has many uses, but these are often considered shorthand versions of more formal versions. Here are the uses with a few examples.
- To show fractions
Sally ate 1/2 of the sandwich.
Of all the students in the school, 3/4 of the students are from Asia.
- To separate the day, the month, and the year in dates
Today is 9/9/2011.
- To substitute for the word per in certain measurements
Our car gets 25 mi/gal.
Junior can type 80 w/m.
These bananas cost 3 lbs/$1!
- To substitute for the word or (considered very informal or even lazy)
Dear Sir/Madam (Sir or Madam)
Each guest may drink water and/or punch. (water and punch or water or punch)
- To indicate some abbreviations
He would like a salad w/o dressing. (without)
n/a (not applicable)