Q. I have read the sections on suspension points and em dashes, but I’m still a little confused about when to use them in some instances for a pause or break in the writer’s train of thought. If you use suspension points when the pause is a faltering and an em dash when there’s an interruption or a more abrupt break, how do you handle more “neutral” pauses in a sentence that are neither abrupt nor accompanied by confusion or insecurity? I would lean toward the em dash, but I have an AU that is ellipsis-happy, so it is making me question my judgement. Is an ellipsis okay in the instances below, or would an em dash fit the bill better? “I confidently thought I had his same sense of timing . . . or tie-ming.” “I could sense the potential for a fun, educational television show hosted by none other than . . . me.”
A. Such pauses as the ones you quote are fine with ellipses. It’s probably best to trust the writer unless you encounter something truly jarring or confusing. Of course, a distracting overuse of ellipses is something to point out to a writer, who might then be motivated to eliminate some.