What Does … Mean in a Text from a Guy? 9 Interpretations (2024)

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Learn how to decode ellipses in text messages based on context

Co-authored byLaura Bilottaand Dev Murphy, MA

Last Updated: March 23, 2023Fact Checked

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  • "..." Meaning in Text
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  • How to Reply to "…"
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  • Other Popular Punctuation in Texts
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  • Expert Interview
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You might be used to your mom following every sentence in a text with an unnecessary ellipsis. But when a millennial or gen z guy texts you “...,” it can be pretty confusing! What does he mean? These 3 little dots might seem cryptic at first—but luckily, there are a number of ways to interpret a guy’s usage of “...” in a text message according to the context. We’ve made a list of the different possible meanings “...” could have in a text—plus the meaning behind other popular punctuation marks in texts. Check it out below!

Things You Should Know

  • Interpret an ellipsis (“...”) as flirty, thoughtful, passive-aggressive, or totally meaningless depending on the context of the conversation.
  • Observe the context of the chat to know what a guy means by “....” An ellipsis indicates something has been left unsaid, but what it is depends on context.
  • If you’re not sure how to interpret his text, give him the benefit of the doubt and don’t automatically assume it’s bad news, or be direct and ask him what he means.
  • If you're in the middle of a conversation and the guy suddenly stops responding, the three dots can indicate that he is taking time to think about his response, or that he is distracted by something else. In this case, it's important to give him space and not assume that he is ignoring you.

Section 1 of 3:

"..." Meaning in Text

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  1. 1

    He’s flirting. Ellipses are an effective way to let the person you’re speaking with fill in the blank. If a guy who’s chatting you up follows a text like “I’ve been thinking about you…” with those 3 tiny dots, he’s inviting you to use your imagination to figure out what exactly he’s thinking about you. And babe, whatever he’s thinking, it’s either romantic or naughty. Or both.[1]

    • “Hey, what are you up to tonight…”
    • “I’m home alone…”
    • “Do you have a boyfriend…”
  2. 2

    He’s pondering. Perhaps the most traditional use of the ellipsis. Did “...” appear at the end of a “Hmm”? Your guy might sincerely be mulling over whatever y’all are talking about. Assess the context in which his dot dot dot appeared: are you discussing something heavy or deep, something that needs a little extra care or thought, or something that’s just plain confusing? His ellipsis may be a reflection of his consideration.[2]

    • “I’ve never thought about it that way…”
    • “Wow, that’s intense…”
    • “Let me think this through…”

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  3. 3

    He’s leading up to hard news. If he ended a foreboding sentence like “We need to talk…” with those 3 dots, he could be indicating difficult news is coming. He might feel hesitant to be direct, but that ellipsis certainly makes things worse, doesn’t it? It’s like Schrodinger’s ellipsis, basically: as long as you don’t know what’s coming after those dots, it could be anything terrible—he wants to break up with you, he’s moving across the country, the global apocalypse is about to occur…. You don’t know until you know.[3]

    • “You got a second to talk later today…”
    • “Hey are you gonna be home tonight? I kinda need someone to talk to…”
    • “Are you free for coffee tomorrow? I’d like to chat about some things…”
  4. 4

    He’s annoyed. If you’ve ever gotten the dreaded “OK…” text from someone who isn’t a boomer, there’s a chance they were miffed. Don’t automatically assume he’s annoyed if he sends you an ellipsis—after all, it’s a passive-aggressive way to emote, and it’s his responsibility to be up front with you about how he’s feeling—but consider the texts leading up to the ellipsis. If it was bad news, he might be irritated.[4]

    • “I guess so…”
    • “No problem…”
    • “…”
  5. 5

    He’s not sure what to say. If you've sent him a shocking or surprising text—say, "My cat died," or "Hugh Grant's middle name is 'Mungo,'"—he might be rendered speechless. But if he's a polite fellow, he won't want to leave you hanging, so he'll send a lone "..." in the meantime.

    • Consider what you just told him: is it something he'd be taken aback by?
    • Ideally, if this is the context in which you received a dot dot dot, he won't just leave you with a single ellipsis as a response, but will follow it up with actual words.
  6. 6

    He’s trailing off a sentence because he thinks you’ll get the gist. He might cut off a text prematurely with an ellipsis if he thinks you could reasonably use context clues to figure out the ending or grasp the essence of what he’s saying. This may apply to popular song lyrics that he knows you’ll recognize and be able to finish (“‘Oops, I did it again…’”) or a lengthy list of holiday activities he participated in with his family (“We baked cookies, sang carols, went sledding…”). Basically, the dot dot dot functions as an “etcetera” or a “yada yada yada.”[5]

    • “Favorite movies? Hmm. I like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Bridget Jones' Diary, Rogue One..."
    • “Such a busy weekend. Running errands, hanging out with my dad, meal-prepping, working…”
    • “‘Imagine there’s no heaven…’”
  7. 7

    He wants to generate some suspense. If your guy ends a sentence that needs more elaboration with an ellipsis (like “I took Fido to the vet today…”), he’s probably trying to get you to ask him for more information. The dot dot dot could be a test to see how closely you’re paying attention or how invested you are in the conversation.[6]

    • “I heard back about that job I interviewed for…”
    • “So I stopped by Jeff’s house today…”
    • “I thought I did terribly on that science test but…”
  8. 8

    He’s waiting for you to respond and wants you to know it. The lone dot dot dot is some people’s way of trying to remind you, “Hey, text me back.” He could subconsciously be mimicking the ellipsis that appears on your phone when someone is in the process of texting a response to you. This tactic could be seen as passive-aggressive, but he might just want your attention and not know how to say so.[7]

  9. 9

    He's not really thinking about it. For sure the most frustrating use of the “dot dot dot.” If you’re having a convo with a guy and he ends a seemingly innocuous sentence like “I love spaghetti” or “I found a cool rock shaped like a triangle in the park today” with an ellipsis, it very well could be that he doesn’t even know what he means. He may just not know what to say or what vibe he wants to give off (or should give off), and compensates—confusingly—with a few too many punctuation marks.[8]

    • Pay attention to how often this happens and after which sentences. If you notice it occurring often for no apparent reason, it’s probably just part of his writing style.
    • “I had a sub sandwich for lunch today…”
    • “My favorite subject is math…”
    • “I’m going to be Shrek for Halloween this year…”
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Section 2 of 3:

How to Reply to "…"

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  1. 1

    Reply to a flirty ellipsis by flirting if you like him back. The guy you’re crushing on sends you a flirtatious “What are you up to tonight…” You like him—so be coy right back at him! Reply with your own flirty text ending in an ellipsis to tease him or invite him to use his imagination the same way he did to you.

    • Be cryptic and make him wonder what you’re really up to: “Just going out for a bit…”
    • Or be more obvious: “I’m just here, all alone…”
    • The nice thing about the flirty ellipsis is it’s not direct. If you don’t feel the same way about him, you can just ignore his ellipsis and spare his feelings.
    • If you don’t want to lead him on, reply to a “What are you up to tonight…” text as sincerely as possible. “I’m probably watching movies with my dog and then heading to bed.”
  2. 2

    If you think his ellipsis is angry, ask if everything’s OK. His ellipsis could indicate he’s annoyed, but you won’t really know unless you ask him directly. He may not even have realized what he was doing—or maybe he did, and he might be grateful to address it.

    • It’s generally best to give someone the benefit of the doubt when texting, so ask for clarification if you need it or assume good intent.[9]
    • “Hey, is everything all right? Wasn’t sure if that ellipsis had an irritated tone or not!”
    • “We good? I know this is a heavy topic.”
    • “Just want to make sure I’m not reading into things—can you describe the tone of that last text?”
  3. 3

    Ignore the ellipsis if it seems meaningless. If you think he’s just pondering what you’re talking about, no need to address the ellipsis: just give him a second to collect his thoughts. If you suspect he’s using ellipses with no real intentionality, just pretend it’s not there at all and talk as you usually would.

  4. 4

    Reply to a trailed-off sentence by affirming you got the gist. If he finishes off a song lyric with an ellipsis, finish the song. If he’s just using an ellipsis in an “etcetera” sort of way, say directly that you understand what he’s saying or finish his train of thought.

    • Respond to “We baked cookies, sang carols, went sledding…” with “...wrapped presents, built snowmen, the whole shebang!” or something like “Sounds like you did all the classics!”
    • “‘Oops, I did it again…’” could be followed up with “‘I played with your heaaaart, got lost in the game!’” (Or even just “Best song ever!”)
  5. 5

    Respond to a suspenseful ellipsis by asking for more info. If he sends you the first part of an important or intriguing story, be sure he wants you to ask what happens next. Either he enjoys being the master of suspense and wants to hear you’re on the edge of your seat, or he’s trying to share something important and needs some reassurance you’re invested in what he’s saying.

    • “I took Fido to the vet today…” “Oh no, is anything wrong? I really hope Fido is OK!”
    • “I heard back about that job I interviewed for…” “Don’t leave me hanging, man! How did it go?”
    • “So I stopped by Jeff’s house today…” “And? What happened?”
  6. 6

    If he’s trying to get your attention, reply, or leave him hanging. Sometimes, we get busy and forget to reply to text messages, and a little dot dot dot can jog our memory. It happens to us all, so if this is the case, send him a quick “Oops! Sorry!” or just respond as per usual. If you feel like he’s being passive-aggressive, or if you’d already expressed you wouldn’t be available for a while, feel free to remind him or that or just leave him hanging.

    • “...” “Hey! Sorry, I got hung up. Replying now.”
    • “...” “Lol hold your horses! I’m just in the middle of something.”
    • “...” “Like I said, I’m at work for the next 6 hours and can’t chat now.”
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Section 3 of 3:

Other Popular Punctuation in Texts

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  1. 1

    Periods. A truly chilling punctuation mark to receive from a guy you’re interested in. To most people under, say, 35, a period says, “This conversation is done,” “I am tired of speaking,” or even—worst-case scenario—“I don’t want to deal with you.”[10]

    • Of course, there’s always room for the benefit of the doubt, so to be sure his period is a hostile one, consider both the context of the period and his usual texting style.
    • If he’s not much of a texter, he might genuinely not realize periods are a no-no—or maybe his phone autocorrected and he didn’t fix it.
    • The angry period doesn't necessarily mean he's upset with you: if the convo was about something difficult—say, he failed a test and doesn’t want to talk about it—he might be upset in the moment, but will be back to normal again soon.
  2. 2

    Exclamation points. Exclamation points traditionally indicate excitement or surprise. Because periods are known to indicate anger or passive-aggressiveness these days, some folks may also opt to end sentences with unnecessary exclamation points, just to avoid their tone being misread.[11]

    • A guy might use an exclamation point in a text in essentially the same way he’d use it in everyday writing: to show he’s excited or shocked, to add emphasis, or to indicate the preceding text is being shouted or screamed.[12]
    • Receiving a text of nothing but a lone exclamation point may be somewhat confusing, but it usually suggests the texter is surprised or excited by something you’ve said.
    • If you haven’t said anything, they’ll likely be following up their exclamation point with their own shocking or exciting story.
  3. 3

    Question marks. Like exclamation points, question marks usually mean in text what they indicate in formal writing: confusion or the end of a question. If you get a single question mark, the texter could genuinely be asking for clarification—but there’s always a possibility they’re being a little passive-aggressive too, and insinuating you’ve said something odd or possibly offensive.

  4. 4

    Asterisks. While in formal writing an asterisk might indicate a footnote, in informal writing, asterisks frequently surround an action word or phrase to indicate that action is being performed. The action generally adds to the tone of the conversation somehow—for instance, blushing to indicate embarrassment or humility, an eye roll to indicate sarcasm or exasperation, or coughing to indicate that what is being said is being “coughed” rather than directly stated because it’s particularly spicy.

    • “Oh, yeah, I just LOVE getting called into work at the last second… *eyeroll*”
    • “Aww thank you for the kind words! *blushes*”
    • “I saw somebody at the gym this morning… *cough* Jeremy *cough*”
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Expert Q&A

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  • Question

    Is it rude to use ellipsis?

    Laura Bilotta
    Dating Coach & Matchmaker

    Laura Bilotta is a Dating Coach, Matchmaker, and the Founder of Single in the City, her dating and relationship coaching service based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.With over 18 years of experience, she focuses on helping singles date more intentionally, encouraging them to let go of negative patterns so that they can attract the love that they deserve. Her experience, skills, and insights have led to thousands of successfully united over 65,000 singles through events and one-on-one matchmaking coaching sessions. She has been the host of The Dating and Relationship Show on Global News Radio 640 Toronto (AM640) for 6 years and is known as The Hookup Queen of Clubhouse; her popular singles club, Single in the City, has over 95.5K members who regularly join in weekly dating and relationship-focused rooms.

    Laura Bilotta

    Dating Coach & Matchmaker

    Expert Answer

    Not really, it always depends on the context. If the three dots are used excessively or in a way that feels manipulative or controlling, it can be a red flag that the guy is not respecting your boundaries or is trying to exert power over the conversation. In this case, it's important to set clear boundaries and communicate your needs, or to consider whether this behavior is indicative of deeper issues in the relationship.

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      About This Article

      What Does … Mean in a Text from a Guy? 9 Interpretations (42)

      Co-authored by:

      Laura Bilotta

      Dating Coach & Matchmaker

      This article was co-authored by Laura Bilotta and by wikiHow staff writer, Dev Murphy, MA. Laura Bilotta is a Dating Coach, Matchmaker, and the Founder of Single in the City, her dating and relationship coaching service based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.With over 18 years of experience, she focuses on helping singles date more intentionally, encouraging them to let go of negative patterns so that they can attract the love that they deserve. Her experience, skills, and insights have led to thousands of successfully united over 65,000 singles through events and one-on-one matchmaking coaching sessions. She has been the host of The Dating and Relationship Show on Global News Radio 640 Toronto (AM640) for 6 years and is known as The Hookup Queen of Clubhouse; her popular singles club, Single in the City, has over 95.5K members who regularly join in weekly dating and relationship-focused rooms. This article has been viewed 79,497 times.

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      Updated: March 23, 2023

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