Research paper ellipses
August 25, 2010 7:51 PM   Subscribe

Does a quote in a research paper (MLA format 2010) keep or drop a comma when an ellipse is used?


Which would be correct if the original sentence is "Sam went to the park, played on the jungle gym, and then he went home" (45).?

"Sam went to the park, . . . and then he went home" (45).


"Sam went to the park . . . and then went home" (45).

I've looked on numerous websites but I can't find that information anywhere. Thanks for any help :)
posted by xopaigexo to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can use ellipsis points to shorten a sentence as long as the rest of the quotation is kept intact and the intent of the message is the same. The finished sentence should retain punctuation that will make it grammatically correct.

The problem with your example is that you removed "he" from the original quotation. I would use "Sam went to the park,…and then he went home" ([Citation Author] 45).

The fact that the paper is MLA style is irrelevant to the question, in my eyes.
posted by UsernameGenerator at 8:14 PM on August 25, 2010

The second is correct -- no comma needed when using an ellipsis.
posted by shamash at 8:15 PM on August 25, 2010

I think the missing 'he" was just a typo.

According to this MLA handout "Notice that the punctuation before and after an omission is included in MLA." And here, it says "Likewise, if you excerpt material at the end of clause that ends in a comma, retain the comma."

IANMLA (I Am Not the MLA) nor I have I actually had to use it for many years. I just found those examples online.
posted by grapesaresour at 8:27 PM on August 25, 2010

Yeah, I should have added "IANMLA" -- omitting the punctuation is acceptable and correct for everyday writing (articles, blog posts, letters, novels, whatever); the MLA might want something different. Do you have an MLA guidebook you can look this up in?
posted by shamash at 8:31 PM on August 25, 2010

Response by poster: oops! i meant for the second sentence to have "he" in it. I probably confused some people..
posted by xopaigexo at 8:37 PM on August 25, 2010

The MLA handbook (6th ed., p. 115) gives the following example:

Original: "Medical thinking, trapped in the theory of astral influences, stressed air as the communicator of disease"

Ellipsis in the middle: "Medical thinking . . . stressed air as the communicator of disease"

It seems pretty clear that you can omit commas when using ellipses.

More specifically, the page before that one, also on ellipses, states you should "be guided by two principles: fairness to the author quoted and the grammatical integrity of your writing." If you need to leave the comma in to make the sentence grammatical, then leave it in. If it would make the sentence ungrammatical, delete it.
posted by Paragon at 8:39 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Omit the comma when using the ellilpses.

If you're leaving out other stuff from the original, such as words, there's no reason not to leave out the comma. Simpler is better. See Strunk and White.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 1:22 PM on August 26, 2010

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