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The full stop ( Commonwealth English), period ( North American English) or full point is a punctuation mark. It is used for several purposes, most often to mark the end of a declarative sentence (as opposed to a question or exclamation); this sentence-terminal use, alone, defines the strictest sense of ''full stop''. The mark is also often used, singly, to indicate omitted characters, or in an ellipsis, , to indicate omitted words. It may be placed after an initial letter used to stand for a name, or after each individual letter in an initialism or acronym (e.g., "U.S.A."); however, this style is declining, and many initialisms without punctuation (e.g., "UK" and "NATO") have become accepted norms. A full point is also frequently used at the end of word
abbreviation An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for example, the word ''abbrevia ...
s – in British usage, primarily truncations like ''Rev.'', but not after contractions like ''Revd (''in
American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American English is the most influential form of ...
it is used in both cases). In Anglophone countries, it is used for the decimal point and other purposes, and may be called a point. In computing, it is called a dot. It is sometimes called a baseline dot to distinguish it from the interpunct (or middle dot). While ''full stop'' technically only applies to the full point when used to terminate a sentence, the distinction – drawn since at least 1897 – is not maintained by all modern style guides and dictionaries.


History


Ancient Greek origin

The full stop symbol derives from the Greek punctuation introduced by Aristophanes of Byzantium in the 3rd century . In his system, there were a series of dots whose placement determined their meaning.


''stigmḕ teleía'', ''stigmḕ mésē'' and ''hypostigmḕ''

The full stop at the end of a completed thought or expression was marked by a high dot ⟨˙⟩, called the ''stigmḕ teleía'' () or "terminal dot". The "middle dot" ⟨·⟩, the ''stigmḕ mésē'' (), marked a division in a thought occasioning a longer breath (essentially a semicolon), while the low dot ⟨.⟩, called the ''hypostigmḕ'' () or "underdot", marked a division in a thought occasioning a shorter breath (essentially a
comma The comma is a punctuation mark that appears in several variants in different languages. It has the same shape as an apostrophe The apostrophe ( or ) is a punctuation mark, and sometimes a diacritical mark, in languages that use the Lati ...
).


Medieval simplification

In practice, scribes mostly employed the terminal dot; the others fell out of use and were later replaced by other symbols. From the 9th century onwards, the full stop began appearing as a low mark (instead of a high one), and by the time
printing Printing is a process for mass reproducing text and images using a master form or template. The earliest non-paper products involving printing include cylinder seals and objects such as the Cyrus Cylinder and the Cylinders of Nabonidus. The ...

printing
began in Western Europe, the lower dot was regular and then universal.


Medieval Latin and modern English ''period''

The name ''period'' is first attested (as the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...
loanword ) in Ælfric of Eynsham's Old English treatment on grammar. There, it is distinguished from the full stop (the ), and continues the Greek underdot's earlier function as a comma between phrases.''Oxford English Dictionary'', "period, ''n.'', ''adj.'', and ''adv.''" Oxford University Press, 2005, It shifted its meaning, to a dot marking a full stop, in the works of the 16th-century grammarians. In 19th-century texts, both British English and
American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American English is the most influential form of ...
were consistent in their usage of the terms ''period'' and ''full stop''. The word ''period'' was used as a name for what printers often called the "full point", the punctuation mark that was a dot on the baseline and used in several situations. The phrase ''full stop'' was only used to refer to the punctuation mark when it was used to terminate a sentence. This terminological distinction seems to be eroding. For example, the 1998 edition of ''Fowler's Modern English Usage'' used ''full point'' for the mark used after an abbreviation, but ''full stop'' or ''full point'' when it was employed at the end of a sentence; the 2015 edition, however, treats them as synonymous (and prefers ''full stop''), and ''New Hart's Rules'' does likewise (but prefers ''full point''). Essentially the same text is found in the previous edition under various titles, including ''New Hart's Rules'', ''Oxford Style Manual'', and ''The Oxford Guide to Style''. In 1989, the last edition (1989) of the original ''Hart's Rules'' (before it became ''The Oxford Guide to Style'' in 2002) exclusively used ''full point''.


Usage

Full stops are one of the most commonly used punctuation marks; analysis of texts indicate that approximately half of all punctuation marks used are full stops.


Ending sentences

Full stops indicate the end of sentences that are not questions or exclamations.


After initials

It is usual in North American English to use full stops after initials; e.g. A. A. Milne, George W. Bush. British usage is less strict. A few style guides discourage full stops after initials. However, there is a general trend and initiatives to spell out names in full instead of abbreviating them in order to avoid ambiguity.


Abbreviations

A full stop is used after some
abbreviation An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for example, the word ''abbrevia ...
s. If the abbreviation ends a declaratory sentence there is no additional period immediately following the full stop that ends the abbreviation (e.g. "My name is Gabriel Gama, Jr."). Though two full stops (one for the abbreviation, one for the sentence ending) might be expected, conventionally only one is written. This is an intentional omission, and thus not haplography, which is unintentional omission of a duplicate. In the case of an interrogative or exclamatory sentence ending with an abbreviation, a question or exclamation mark can still be added (e.g. "Are you Gabriel Gama Jr.?").


Abbreviations and personal titles of address

According to the ''Oxford A–Z of Grammar and Punctuation'', "If the abbreviation includes both the first and last letter of the abbreviated word, as in 'Mister' ['Mr'] and 'Doctor' ['Dr'], a full stop is not used." This does not include, for example, the standard abbreviations for titles such as ''Professor'' ("Prof.") or ''Reverend'' ("Rev."), because they do not end with the last letter of the word they are abbreviating. In
American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American English is the most influential form of ...
, the common convention is to include the period after all such abbreviations.


Acronyms and initialisms

In acronyms and initialisms, the modern style is generally to not use full points after each initial (e.g.: ''DNA'', ''UK'', ''USSR''). The punctuation is somewhat more often used in American English, most commonly with ''U.S.'' and ''U.S.A.'' in particular. However, this depends much upon the house style of a particular writer or publisher. As some examples from American style guides, ''The Chicago Manual of Style'' (primarily for book and academic-journal publishing) deprecates the use of full points in acronyms, including ''U.S.'', while ''The Associated Press Stylebook'' (primarily for journalism) dispenses with full points in acronyms except for certain two-letter cases, including ''U.S.'', ''U.K.'', and ''United Nations, U.N.'', but not ''European Union, EU''.


Mathematics

The period glyph is used in the presentation of numbers, but in only one of two alternate styles at a time. In the more prevalent usage in English-speaking countries, the point represents a decimal separator, visually dividing whole numbers from fractional (decimal) parts. The comma is then used to separate the whole-number parts into groups of three digits each, when numbers are sufficiently large. * 1.007 (one and seven thousandths) * 1,002.007 (one thousand two and seven thousandths) * 1,002,003.007 (one million two thousand three and seven thousandths) The more prevalent usage in much of Europe, southern Africa, and Latin America (with the exception of Mexico due to the influence of the United States), reverses the roles of the comma and point, but sometimes substitutes a (thinspace, thin-)space for a point. * 1,007 (one and seven thousandths) * 1.002,007 or 1 002,007 (one thousand two and seven thousandths) * 1.002.003,007 or 1 002 003,007 (one million two thousand three and seven thousandths) (To avoid problems with spaces, another convention sometimes used is to use apostrophe signs (') instead of spaces.) India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan follow the Indian numbering system, which utilizes commas and decimals much like the aforementioned system popular in most English-speaking countries, but separates values of one hundred thousand and above differently, into divisions of ''lakh'' and ''crore'': *1.007 (one and seven thousandths) *1,002.007 (one thousand two and seven thousandths) *10,02,003.007 (one million two thousand three and seven thousandths or ten ''lakh'' two thousand three and seven thousandths) In countries that use the comma as a decimal separator, the point is sometimes found as a multiplication sign; for example, 5,2 . 2 = 10,4; this usage is impractical in cases where the point is used as a decimal separator, hence the use of the interpunct: 5.2 · 2 = 10.4. This notation is also seen when multiplying units in science; for example, 50 km/h could be written as 50 km·h−1. However, the point is used in all countries to indicate a dot product, i.e. the scalar product of two vectors.


Logic

In older literature on mathematical logic, the period glyph used to indicate how expressions should be bracketed (see Glossary of Principia Mathematica, Glossary of ''Principia Mathematica'').


Computing

In computing, the full point, usually called a ''dot'' in this context, is often used as a delimiter, such as in Domain Name System, DNS lookups, Web addresses, and Computer file, file names: * www.wikipedia.org * document.txt * 192.168.0.1 It is used in many programming languages as an important part of the syntax. C (programming language), C uses it as a means of accessing a member of a Struct (C programming language), struct, and this syntax was inherited by C++ as a means of accessing a member of a Class (computer science), class or Object (computer science), object. Java (programming language), Java and Python (programming language), Python also follow this convention. Pascal (programming language), Pascal uses it both as a means of accessing a member of a record set (the equivalent of struct in C), a member of an object, and after the ''end'' construct that defines the body of the program. In APL (programming language), APL it is also used for generalised Inner product space, inner product and outer product. In Erlang (programming language), Erlang, Prolog, and Smalltalk, it marks the end of a statement ("sentence"). In a regular expression, it represents a match of any character. In Perl and PHP, the dot is the string concatenation operator. In the Haskell (programming language), Haskell standard library, it is the function composition operator. In COBOL a full stop ends a statement. In file systems, the dot is commonly used to separate the Filename extension, extension of a file name from the name of the file. RISC OS uses dots to separate levels of the hierarchical file system when writing path names—similar to / (forward-slash) in Unix-based systems and \ (back-slash) in MS-DOS-based systems and the Windows NT systems that succeeded them. In Unix-like operating systems, some applications treat files or directories that start with a dot as Hidden file, hidden. This means that they are not displayed or listed to the user by default. In Unix-like systems and Microsoft Windows, the dot character represents the working directory of the file system. Two dots (..) represent the parent directory of the working directory. Bourne shell-derived command-line interpreters, such as sh, KornShell, ksh, and Bash (Unix shell), bash, use the dot as a command to Source (command), read a file and execute its content in the running interpreter. (Some of these also offer ''source'' as a synonym, based on that usage in the C-shell.)


Telegraphy

The term ''STOP'' was used in electrical telegraph, telegrams in place of the full stop. The end of a sentence would be marked by ''STOP''; its use "in telegraphic communications was greatly increased during the World War, when the Government employed it widely as a precaution against having messages garbled or misunderstood, as a result of the misplacement or emission of the tiny dot or period."


In conversation

In British English, the words "full stop" at the end of an utterance strengthen it, it admits of no discussion: "I'm not going with you, full stop." In American English the word "period" serves this function. Another common use in African-American Vernacular English is found in the phrase "And that's on period" which is used to express the strength of the speaker's previous statement, usually to emphasise an opinion.


Linguistics

The International Phonetic Alphabet uses the full stop to signify a syllable break.


Punctuation styles when quoting

The practice in the United States and Canada is to place full stops and commas inside quotation marks in most styles. In the British system, which is also called "logical quotation", full stops and commas are placed according to grammatical sense: This means that when they are part of the quoted material, they should be placed inside, and otherwise should be outside. For example, they are placed outside in the cases of words-as-words, titles of short-form works, and quoted sentence fragments. * Bruce Springsteen, nicknamed "the Boss," performed "American Skin." (closed or American style) * Bruce Springsteen, nicknamed "the Boss", performed "American Skin". (logical or British style) * He said, "I love music." (both) There is some national crossover. American style is common in British fiction writing. British style is sometimes used in American English. For example, the Chicago Manual of Style recommends it for fields where comma placement could affect the meaning of the quoted material, such as linguistics and textual criticism. Use of placement according to logical or grammatical sense, or "logical convention", now the more common practice in regions other than North America, was advocated in the influential book ''The King's English'' by Fowler and Fowler, published in 1906. Prior to the influence of this work, the typesetter's or printer's style, or "closed convention", now also called American style, was common throughout the world.


Spacing after a full stop

There have been a number of practices relating to the spacing after a full stop. Some examples are listed below: * One word space ("French spacing"). This is the current convention in most countries that use the ISO basic Latin alphabet for published and final written work, as well as digital media. * Two word spaces ("English spacing"). It is sometimes claimed that the two-space convention stems from the use of the monospaced font on typewriters, but in fact that convention replicates much earlier typography — the intent was to provide a clear break between sentences. This spacing method was gradually replaced by the single space convention in published print, where space is at a premium, and continues in much digital media. * One widened space (such as an em space). This spacing was seen in History of sentence spacing, historical typesetting practices (until the early 20th century). It has also been used in other typesetting systems such as the Linotype machine and the TeX system. Modern computer-based digital fonts can adjust the spacing after terminal punctuation as well, creating a space slightly wider than a standard word space.


Full stops in other scripts


Greek

Although the present Greek full stop (, ''teleía'') is Romanization of Greek, romanized as a Latin full stop [''Ellīnikós Organismós Typopoíīsīs'', "Hellenic Organization for Standardization"]. [''ELOT 743, 2ī Ekdosī'', "ELOT 743, "]. ELOT (Athens), 2001. . and encoded identically with the full stop in Unicode,Nicolas, Nick.
Greek Unicode Issues: Punctuation
". 2005. Accessed 7 Oct 2014.
the historic full stop in Greek was a ''high'' dot and the ''low'' dot functioned as a kind of Greek comma, comma, #History, as noted above. The low dot was increasingly but irregularly used to mark full stops after the 9th century and was fully adapted after the advent of print. The teleia should also be distinguished from the ano teleia, ano teleia mark, which is named "''high'' stop" but looks like an interpunct (a ''middle'' dot) and principally functions as the Greek semicolon.


Armenian

The Armenian alphabet, Armenian script uses the ։ (, ). It looks similar to the colon (punctuation), colon (:).


Chinese

In Simplified Chinese and Japanese, a small circle is used instead of a solid dot: "。︀" (U+3002 "wikt:。, Ideographic Full Stop"). Traditional Chinese uses the same symbol centered in the line rather than aligned to the baseline.


Korean

Korean uses the Latin full stop along with Hangul, its native script, while Vietnamese uses both the Latin alphabet and punctuation.


Devanagari

In the Devanagari, Devanagari script, used to write Hindi and Sanskrit among other Languages of India, Indian languages, a vertical line ("।") (U+0964 "Devanagari Danda") is used to mark the end of a sentence. It is known as (full stop) in Hindi and in Bengali. Some Indian languages also use the full stop, such as Marathi language, Marathi. In Tamil, it is known as , which means ''end dot''.


Sinhala

In Sinhala language, Sinhala, it is known as ''kundaliya'': "෴" (U+0DF4 "Sinhala Punctuation Kunddaliya"). Periods were later introduced into Sinhala script after the introduction of paper due to the influence of Western languages. See also Sinhala numerals.


Urdu

Urdu uses the "۔" (U+06D4) symbol. It looks similar to underscore ().


Thai

In Thai language, Thai, no symbol corresponding to the full stop is used as ''terminal punctuation''. A sentence is written without spaces and a space is typically used to mark the end of a clause or sentence.


Ge'ez

In the Ge'ez script used to write Amharic language, Amharic and several other Ethiopian and Eritrean languages, the equivalent of the full stop following a sentence is the "።"—which means ''four dots''. The two dots on the right are slightly ascending from the two on the left, with space in between.


Encodings

The character is encoded at . There is also , used in several shorthand (stenography) systems. The character is Halfwidth and fullwidth forms, full-width encoded at . This form is used alongside CJK characters.


In text messages

Researchers from Binghamton University performed a small study, published in 2016, on young adults and found that text messages that included sentences ended with full stops—as opposed to those with no terminal punctuation—were perceived as insincere, though they stipulated that their results apply only to this particular medium of communication: "Our sense was, is that because [text messages] were informal and had a chatty kind of feeling to them, that a period may have seemed stuffy, too formal, in that context," said head researcher Cecelia Klin. The study did not find handwritten notes to be affected. A 2016 story by Jeff Guo in ''The Washington Post'', stated that the line break had become the default method of punctuation in texting, comparable to the use of line breaks in poetry, and that a period at the end of a sentence causes the tone of the message to be perceived as cold, angry or passive-aggressive. According to Gretchen McCulloch, an internet linguist, using a full stop to end messages is seen as "rude" by more and more people. She said this can be attributed to the way we text and use instant messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. She added that the default way to break up one's thoughts is to send each thought as an individual message.


See also

* Decimal separator * Dot (disambiguation) * Sentence spacing * Terminal punctuation


References

{{Authority control Punctuation Ancient Greek punctuation