The ellipsis: punctuation for omitting, implying and alluding. That's exactly what it stands for in Greek too - omission. You use this mark in a sentence when you don't want to include a word or phrase. This is a powerful punctuation for writing as it can make characters seem thoughtful, mysterious or even flighty.
The ellipsis has been around for quite a while. Quintillian, a Roman rhetorician who lived from 35-100 C.E., was quoted describing it as “the omission of words that can be recovered verbatim by means of contextual information.” But there is debate on where it first appeared in written text. Some scholars claim it pops up as "subpuncting" or "underdotting" which entailed scribes adding three dots underneath a word or phrase usually when that piece had been copied erroneously. Still other scholars claim that the 1588 edition of the Roman dramatist Terence’s play, Andria, which had been translated into English by Maurice Kyffin and printed by Thomas East, was the first official use of ellipses as we know them today...the debate continues! Either way, it is clear having a symbol to express a sentiment of absence in text is necessary!
Fill in the Blanks!
This is basically your own version of MadLibs! There are a few ways you can use the ellipsis to your advantage as a learning tool for your children.
1) When reading a book that your child is familiar with, start reading a sentence and then omit the last word in the sentence and instead say "dot, dot, dot" or say nothing at all and give your child the opportunity to fill in the omission! We do this with our son and he loves it (and is getting very good at it!) If you need help getting started, try a rhyming book so your kiddos can get a feel for the rhythm and sounds of words before adding in the ellipsis angle.
2) While having regular conversation with your kid (regardless of whether they can talk back to you or not!), ask open-ended questions and use sentences that include an omission. For example, while talking to your child, you can say, "The sky is beautiful today because…" If your child can talk with you, you can brainstorm about a variety of answers. If your child can't talk yet, this is still an important exercise because 1) you are talking with your child and 2) it helps them understand the nuances of speaking.
Make your own Ellipses!
The ellipsis is simple in design: three periods evenly spaced. Introduce the ellipsis, shape and numbers to your child by finding round things around your house to make ellipses! You can use balls, trivets, bagels, you name it! Have fun counting to three and exploring the different round shapes in your home!