Trailing Off

Margie Wakeman Wells The Dash 2 Comments

English calls for the dash for trailing off — a sentence that got started that did not get finished. Many, many reporters are using the ellipsis.

When the person uses but before he trails off, there is no comma before but because there is not an independent subject and verb after. When a person uses so before he trails off, there is a semicolon because it means “therefore.”

…at the event but…
…at the event but —

…at the event; so…
…at the event; so —

Happy punctuating!

Margie

Comments 2

  1. You mentioned, “When a person uses so before he trails off, there is a semicolon because it means ‘therefore.'” I also noted that in some other information you printed that “so” can also mean or be used as “in addition to” and would not require a comma; therefore, do we always know when someone trails off how they are going to use the word “so”?

    Thank you.

    Kind regards,
    Cherie

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi, Cherie.

      I am so late in responding to you, I know. Quite frankly, I totally forgot to look for questions here.

      I don’t think “so” means “in addition to.” It can mean “therefore” or “so that, in order that.” I think that, when someone trails off, it always means “therefore.” I would always use a period or semicolon in front of it.

      Have a great day.

      Margie

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