Tag Archives: ellipsis

Quotation alteration

by Shamus Jarvis

As a follow-up to my recent post describing how to integrate quotations effectively, I would like to explain how to modify quotations in order to further help you achieve a seamlessly integrated quotation.

There are two tools (or punctuation marks) used to modify a quote:

  1. Ellipses
  2. Square brackets [ ]

An ellipsis (…) signifies an omission from a quotation. This punctuation mark is especially useful if you are quoting a particularly lengthy passage and want to limit the amount of quoted material that appears in your essay. For example, assume I wanted to integrate the following quote from Sense and Sensibility into my paper: “‘I felt myself,’ she added, ‘to be as solemnly engaged to him, as if the strictest legal covenant had bound us to each other’” (Austen 133).

By omitting a couple of words from the passage, I can call my reader’s attention to specific phrases that are significant to whatever claim I am making, thereby increasing the strength of the quotation: Marianne’s decision to correspond with Willoughby through written letters reflects her misconstrued notions concerning the state of her relationship with him, causing her to later admit that “[she] felt [herself] … to be as solemnly engaged to [Willoughby], as if the strictest legal covenant had bound [them] together” (Austen 133).

You will notice that this integrated quotation combines both methods of quote modification. The square brackets indicate pronouns that I have substituted in order to clarify the subject of the quotation. It is important to recognize that as a result of these substitutions, I have not altered the meaning of the original quotation. Square brackets are useful in altering certain words so that your quotation is grammatically correct within the context of the sentence that appears in your paper.

As a result of utilizing these two punctuation marks in altering quotations, you should be able to produce an effective integrated quote that fluidly transitions between your own words and the quotation.

 

Shamus is about to begin his final year of study at Principia College and looks forward to spending part of his upcoming fall semester studying abroad in England.