Monday, May 26th, 2008

MM: Period


It seems like such a simple thing. When writing a basic sentence, you end it with a period (also known as a full-stop).

Obviously, when asking a question you use a question mark (?), and you follow up an exclamation with an exclamation point (!). You might be leading into a list of items and need a colon (:), or be writing dialogue that drifts off so that you need an ellipsis (…).

But, usually, almost all the time, you’re going to end your sentences with a period. That’s that little dot at the end.

I mention this because, more and more often, I see e-mails and blog posts chock-full of pretty much every other possible means of ending a sentence, with nary a period to be seen. Really, though, it’s simple. Approximately 98% of the time, you should use a period to end a sentence. Every now and again, for emphasis or as a means of signifying that you’re asking a question, you will need to use something else, but you shouldn’t let the others become a habit.

I’ll admit that I do this too often, myself. I’m far to fond of using ellipses at the ends of my sentences, especially when making suggestions in an e-mail. I like to think that it makes me seem less bossy that way, that I’m leaving the final decision up to the reader. But, really, I’m just fooling myself. I know perfectly well that what that really does is make me a sloppy writer. And that’s not usually the impression I want to make….

6 Comments on “MM: Period”

  1. Ellipses in emails… that was a hard habit for me to break. I also notice overuse of commas (i.e. run-on sentences) are fairly common. This is a good reminder Deb!

    Melissa Donovan’s last blog post..Metaphor Creativity

  2. --Deb

    It’s so hard to remember everything!

    (See? There I go, using something other than a period again….)


  3. Well, I have to admit, all those other punctuation marks are pretty fun compared to periods. That’s why it’s so tempting to use them…

    Melissa Donovan’s last blog post..Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone and Pushing Your Boundaries

  4. [...] my brain, trying to think of a punctuation mark we haven’t discussed yet. We’ve covered periods, commas, exclamation points, quotation marks, colons, semi-colons, and hyphens, not to mention [...]

  5. Daniel

    I should be interested to know your opinion on this topic if you were ever in the position to be using an ‘emoticon’. Would you put it before or after the full stop? Or would you omit the full stop completely and just use the emoticon?

    As a frequent patron of Instant Messaging services I quite often ponder the grammatical legalities of such a situation ^_^. See what I did there? :P Also there. (Oh no, a sentence fragment!)

  6. I think that emoticons live little lives of their own and not necessarily restricted to the rules that actual words have to abide. My general feeling? That they can either be “inside” a sentence, and thus followed by a period, or that they can be “outside” the sentence and just sit there all by themselves.

    –Deb’s last blog post..Linguist vs Grammarian–The Fallout