Full Stop (. ) When to Use a Full Stop (UK) / a Period (US)

A full stop (UK) or period (US) is a dot (. ) that signals the end of a sentence. It is also used to show the presence of an abbreviation in American English.

Full Stop  / Period (.)

What is a full stop?

The full stop signals that one sentence has ended, and another is about to begin. It is used for what are known as declarative sentences—sentences that make a simple statement without emphasis (shown by the exclamation point, “!“), or that ask a question (shown by the question mark, “?“).

In American English, the period is used to indicate an abbreviation, but in British English this is often omitted.

When to use a full stop

The period is used to show the end of a sentence.

Examples:

  • We ran out of gas on the highway.
  • It’s time to eat.
  • Although I love her, I decided to break up with her.
  • The Toyota Camry is one of the best-selling cars in the world.
  • Children love to watch the elephants at the zoo.

The full stop is often omitted in phone text messages, but you should use it in writing that has any degree of formality.

The period is also used in most abbreviations in American English.

Examples:

  • A 32-oz. bottle of motorcycle oil will last a long time.
  • Bring me a 50-lb. box of cat litter.
  • Distances from here: Boston, 20 mi., New York, 170 mi.
  • Total running time of the film: 2 hrs.
  • Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was one of the popular stars of the silent film era.

The full stop is sometimes used in acronyms (terms formed from the first letters of a group of words). The full stop is increasingly often omitted in this situation, however.

  • The U.S.A. is always one of the countries that win the most medals at the Olympic Games.

BUT

  • In the UK, controversies over leaving the EU have divided voters.

How to use the full stop with quotation marks

In American English, if you’re using quotation marks to show a quotation, put the period inside the closing quotation mark.

  • As Jared told me, “You’ll never finish the job if you insist on doing it that way.
  • John F. Kennedy said, “The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.

In British English, the period goes outside the closing quotation mark.

  • She said, “Meet me at Piccadilly Circus“.
  • The most famous speech in Shakespeare’s plays begins with the words “To be or not to be“.

The full stop vs. the ellipsis

Don’t confuse the period with the ellipsis, a series of three dots showing that something has been omitted or that the speaker has paused.

  • Wait … we’ll come with you. We can help you carry the canoe.

(.) Full Stop/ Period Infographic

Full Stop (. ) When to Use a Full Stop (UK) / a Period (US)

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