trump ellipses

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Trump’s ellipsis use on Twitter is a national travesty

There are so many.


Emily Bloch


Published Jan 13, 2019   Updated May 20, 2021, 9:39 pm CDT

Whether he’s tweet-ranting from his iPhone at four in the morning about the DNC, dropping conspiratorial Robert Mueller theories, or issuing proclamations that affect national security, like his ban of transgender people serving in the military, many of Donald Trump’s tweets share one common factor—his obsession with ellipses.

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Some tweets feature five, sometimes there are 11, at one point a retweet included 23—but there should only ever be three.

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The president sure loves his ellipsis, the set of three periods that are supposed to either represent an omitted section of text or more likely in Trump’s case, a dramatic pause. Except in his case, it’s extra dramatic because he uses them at the end of the tweets where he hasn’t come close to finishing a thought.

We saw it on the morning of Dec. 7, when Trump went on a Twitter rant against Robert Mueller, James Comey and Hillary Clinton. All told, it ran five tweets and included an astounding 35 periods.

It started at 6:18am, when he tweeted out this:

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Then, he waited 10 minutes before tweeting out a connected thought. The pseudo-thread would end up comprising five tweets and take about an hour to complete.

The entire saga was intended to complain about the ongoing Russia investigation, but instead, all people could think about was why there were so many damn periods.

Trump’s tweeting habits, as noted by The Outline, might partially be credited to his age.

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“Unlike any of the other most egregious parts of the Old People Online Stylebook, chronic ellipsis overuse has no easy explanation,” the publication detailed in its breakdown on how the elderly use ellipses.“Why… do old people… text… like this…?”

Instead of three dots, Trump notoriously strings together sets of at least four or five periods somewhat regularly, even at the beginning of tweets. He also uses them to connect multiple tweets like a thread, but without creating an actual thread.

He’s done it more than 2,000 times on Twitter alone according to the Trump Twitter Archive.

The president tweeted out something with an ellipsis 2,015 times since September 2016. Out of the 3,500 or so times he tweeted in 2018, 589 of those tweets included ellipses. And 24 of Trump’s tweets from 2018 used an ellipsis with at least seven periods.

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The president’s ellipsis use hasn’t gone unnoticed. It was detailed by The Week in a breakdown of Trump’s obscure punctuation use.

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“His ellipses often hang unresolved for minutes, or dozens of minutes, building suspense and fueling wild speculation — and, of course, stoking attention,” the article said.

But despite the absurdity of policy made by half-finished thoughts left dangling in the online ether, some, like linguistics teacher and Ph.D. candidate Vanessa McIntosh say critics need to cut the guy a break.

Trump doesn’t do many things right, and his use of ellipsis is just one of them,” McIntosh told the Daily Dot. “The question we should be asking in my opinion, however, shouldn’t be about whether Trump’s use of ellipsis is right or wrong, but whether we’re right or wrong to make such a big deal of it.”

The Newcastle University teacher said that Twitter isn’t the place to worry about grammar.

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“Most of us tweet in an informal language register that’s more colloquial in its tone than we’d use in a traditional text,” she said. “I don’t think Trump shouldn’t be shamed for that just because he’s the president of the United States.”

Others, like Alex Lancaster, a copywriter based out of San Luis Obispo, California, say rules are rules.

“Three dots in an ellipsis is almost always correct,” she told us. “There’s an obscure rule in MLA style that allows for using four dots in certain cases, but they don’t apply to Trump’s tweets. I can’t say why he lets his ellipsis trail off indefinitely, but I can speculate that he’s ignorant to the basic rules of grammar and he’s not too concerned with appearing professional or ‘presidential.’”

The Daily Dot reached out to White House Director of Social Media, Dan Scavino Jr. for comment on the president’s Twitter style, but haven’t received a response as of publication time.  

This isn’t the first time Trump has been scrutinized for faulty grammar.  

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In October, Trump raised eyebrows for his new plan to always capitalize the ‘c’ in country.

A month ago, his infamous “smocking gun” typo went viral. That tweet had a storm of ellipses, too.

And earlier in 2017, a Georgia teacher went viral for marking up a letter she received from the president and posting the photo on Facebook.

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“Have y’all tried grammar and style check?” she wrote at the top of the page.

Apparently not.

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*First Published: Jan 13, 2019, 6:30 am CST