Updated: Dec 28, 2021
In a previous article, I wrote about the comma. On a keyboard the comma is to the left of this article's punctuation mark - the full stop, or 'period' as Americans prefer to call it. As I'm Australian, I call it a 'full stop'.
I'm not a very good typist, so I often forget which key to press. And I need my glasses to check because the icons on the key are so small.
The use of full stops
Full stops do one thing: they are used to end a sentence. If we didn't use full stops...well have a look at this:
"yes i do only pensioners and our elders get free service from me the
counsel do not remove snakes in open areas"
Apart from the spelling mistakes, there is not one punctuation mark in the two lines.
To me, it seems how the person might sound if they were speaking.
And I'm sure if we were to listen to the person speaking they would pause after 'do' and 'me' and 'areas', and it would make perfect sense, right?
But it's written text, not spoken text.
And yes, it's an example of informal writing - a Facebook comment. Nevertheless, as writers, we must always consider our audience; we know what we mean but do our readers?
This was not a difficult comment to understand; I've seen much worse where I have had to reread, inserting punctuation (commas and full stops mainly) as I go, to make sense of the piece of writing.
It needn't be like that!
Knowing how to use, and when to use, punctuation, helps deliver clear communication between the writer and the reader.
So, let's rewrite the piece (fixing spelling errors too!) with full stops. Here, no commas are needed.
"Yes I do. Only pensioners and our elders get free service from me. The council does not remove snakes in open areas."
Now, that's much better, right?
I could provide numerous other texts with non-usage of full stops, but I think you understand the simple rule: that sentences end with full stops. As you read my article, you can see that I have demonstrated the rule many times.
A relevant point to make in relation to full stops, is that the first letter of the next word in the next sentence always (there are exceptions to the rule however, such as style, or if, say someone prefers to spell their name with lower case characters) is capitalised. Again, you can see numerous examples here.
If you're writing with a pen or a pencil, however, the convention is a [ . ].
Other kinds of full stops
Chinese students studying English and writing using a keyboard, often use the Chinese full stop, which is a small circle that takes the space of one Chinese character. Like this: ( ｡ ).
If you're interested it's called 句号/jù hào.
But, when they write with a pen, it's usually (but not always) a Western form of a full stop.
Full stops in URLs.
Another point to make is that full stops, as you are aware, are used in URLs.
www.apexenglishtutoring.com.au is an example.
And you are also aware that we don't say 'full stop' we say 'dot' - but ONLY when dictating or saying the URL out loud.
So, the URL would be spoken as: "w w w dot apexenglishtutoring dot com dot A-U".
Used in direct speech.
Finally, as this example showed, placing the full stop outside the " is required, unless it's part of the spoken text. E.g. “I should be going.”
And I shall soon.
And that's all you need to know about the full stop/period. Comments are welcome, as always.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this article.
If you'd like to read more, there are other articles on punctuation marks here.