The popularity of texting has meant learning a new way of communicating. You not only have to think about what to say, but also how to write it. Let’s talk about the use of those three points…
Punctuation plays a very important role in text conversations. The way you end a sentence (or capitalize it) can say a lot about how you feel. A difficult period at the end, although grammatically correct, is often interpreted as “I’m upset” or “this is serious”. I think that’s why some people resort to the classic ellipses (…).
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Are you okay …
Ellipses are an informal type of punctuation, which lends itself well to the informal nature of texting. Some people seem to like ellipses as a kind of happy medium between a period and an exclamation point. It is often used in the middle of a sentence to represent the interruption of thought or a long pause for dramatic effect.
At the end of a sentence, you may have a different feeling. Once again, it can be used to stop a thought. But ending a sentence with an ellipsis can also have a kind of sinister or passive-aggressive feel. Here are a couple of examples.
“Okay…I’ll be there soon…”
“Are you sure about that …”
“We need to talk …”
“Sounds good …”
“That’s great …”
I don’t know about you, but when I read those messages, I don’t have a good feeling about any of them. I’m really not sure what emotion is being conveyed. Now let’s use the exact same sentences with different punctuation (or no punctuation).
“Okay, I’ll be there soon”
“Are you sure about that?”
“We need to talk.”
You may not realize it, but the change in punctuation makes these sentences stand out more clearly. “Okay, I’ll be there soon” is simple and informative. “Okay! I’ll be there soon!”He is anxious. “Okay… I’ll be there soon…” sounds like the person isn’t looking forward to seeing you. He thinks of a long pause and a sigh.
Likewise, “That’s great!” shows enthusiasm. A simple “That’s great” without punctuation is a quiet show of support. But “That’s great…” fades away in a way that might seem fake. And slapping a period at the end can give you a petty “good for you” attitude.
What are you trying to say?
This is why ellipses can look so sinister. You have to go to great lengths to add those extra periods, and the recipient may think you did it for a reason. You’re letting them decide the interpretation. “Aren’t they happy to see me or is that how they text…?”
Commas, periods, and exclamation marks have relatively clear meanings in the world of texting. Ellipses are an enigma, and that can be a scary thing to receive. If you want to informally end a message, I think simply not using any punctuation is the way to go. Text messages don’t have to look like a report in English.
If this all sounds too complicated, you’re right! The language is often very imprecise. You may not pick up on the emotion someone is trying to convey, even in spoken conversations. We are all doing our best to be understood.
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