In Britain it is sometimes called the Full Stop. We know it as the Period. There have been numerous articles lately about the demise of this punctuation mark, and someone asked me to write about what I thought.
The whole thing pretty much started with texts and people not using periods in texts. It went even further in that the period, when used, began to add a whole different slant to a text. A text saying Fine had a different emotion behind it than a text saying Fine. You can probably hear the snarkiness when you say Fine with a period after it. (You probably hear a teenage voice, or maybe your spouse’s) I actually cannot think of other words or phrases or sentences where the period would invite that interpretation. But if you want to want to write a text of one word or one phrase or one sentence, and you don’t want to use a period — well — fine.
So that is my opinion on the matter. Texts are short. If you write something that is a sentence or shorter, no one will be confused, so leave off the period for all I care. Same for Tweets, although their composition is somewhat more complicated with links and web addresses and all.
Speaking of web addresses . . . sometimes a period can actually make things more complicated. If you are writing a sentence with your e-mail address at the end, do you put a period? Or will someone think that the period belongs at the end of the e-mail address? (Well, I know that WE wouldn’t be confused, but it could happen!)
My e-mail address is theendoftheperiod.com OR My e-mail address is theendoftheperiod.com.
Ten years ago, where were texting and Twitter? Ten years from now, where will they be? Communication methods are moving so fast that we might be writing only in long paragraphs ten years from now. Who knows? It would be a shame to have gotten rid of the period and then find we need it again.
But seriously. The bulk of what we write is made up of more than one sentence. I don’t think many people think it’s a good idea to rid our writing of periods. For one thing, the writing would be harder to read. The purpose of punctuation, after all, is clarity and ease of reading, not to litter our writing with dots and dashes. Using commas instead — or dashes — wouldn’t solve any problems. The period isn’t being singled out for punishment. If we are going to use punctuation between sentences as a full stop, we might as well stick with the period. Yes, I know people have been using the comma for that for years, but that is a comma splice and it’s incorrect.
Let’s talk about abbreviations for a moment because periods often make it known that something is an abbreviation. A company called ABC Inc is different from a company called ABC, Inc. The Inc. with the period shows us that it is an abbreviation for incorporated. What about Inc? Maybe it’s just Inc and not Incorporated. Periods signal that a word is an abbreviation. In. meaning inch gets a period so it isn’t confused with the preposition in (I need a period here!).
So, what do I think of the demise of the period. I think it has been greatly exaggerated! Try writing a letter without periods between your sentences. Or a book. I don’t think so. Write a text or a Tweet or a short Facebook message without a period. Fine.
There’s formal language and there is colloquial language. Periods are not going anywhere in formal language. Trust me