Ellipsis (KS2) Explained For Parents

Three pencils with animal head figurines on the top (a giraffe, a monkey and a mouse).

Mastering different types of punctuation is part of the English KS2 curriculum, and this includes the use of ellipsis, which is usually introduced in Year 6.

Through reading comprehension and writing exercises, the aim is for children to be able to identify, understand and correctly use ellipsis.

Below is a refresher on the topic which includes everything your child needs to know about ellipsis at KS2 level. We also included ideas of fun activities and games to help them practise and retain their knowledge! With this handy guide to ellipsis, you should have all the keys in hand to connect the dots...

If you are after more English KS2 learning resources, you could run a search through our website to browse our articles, such as Adverbs Explained or Parenthesis Made Easy!

What Is The Definition Of An Ellipsis?

An ellipsis (plural: ellipses) is a punctuation mark: it is written as three dots or full stops "..." and can be pronounced as "dot dot dot". When reading out a sentence, an ellipsis is usually read as a pause or silence.

Ellipses can be used at any point in a sentence:

  • At the beginning: "... [T]oday is Monday."
  • In between words: "Are you sure... I don't think today is Monday."
  • At the end: "I checked, and today is definitely not Monday..."
Parents sat with their two kids looking at a laptop to learn about ellipsis.

What Are Ellipses Used For?

There are many different reasons a writer may choose to use an ellipsis in a text. Here are some examples:

  • To create suspense: I know who committed the crime... It was Mr Smith!
  • To mark hesitation: I... Don't know for sure but erm... I think it was Mr Smith.
  • To indicate a trailing thought or an unfinished sentence: If only we knew who committed the crime...
  • To show an interruption in a dialogue: "I think I know who committed..." "It was Mr Smith!"
  • To show the omission of words from a quote. For example, if you wish to quote "The criminal, Mr Smith, who is known amongst his friends as Jonny, is thought to have committed a robbery two weeks ago." but do not think the whole sentence is useful, you might want to use an ellipsis, like so: "The criminal, Mr Smith, ... is thought to have committed a robbery two weeks ago."
  • To indicate a silent response: "Mr Smith, you are a criminal!" "..."

Fun Activities Around Ellipses:

Below are various examples of reading and writing exercises you may want to try to familiarise your child with the use and meaning of ellipses. Remember, they should be able to correctly identify them, use them and understand their function!

  • You could try writing or finding an existing sentence which uses an ellipsis, reading it to your child, and asking them to identify its meaning or the effect of its use (for example "Creating suspense" or "Showing an interruption").
  • You could ask your child to create a story using as many different examples of ellipsis as possible, each time justifying to what effect they have used it in a sentence.
  • You could select a sentence with an ellipsis and ask your child to read it out, using the correct intonation. Make sure they remember to read the ellipsis as a silence or a pause, not as "dot dot dot"!
  • You could write out sentences, leaving blanks between words where a full stop or an ellipsis would be, and ask your child to fill in the missing punctuation. If they are correct, ask them to justify why they have selected each type of punctuation.


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