The End Of All Sentences – The Period

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We have talked a lot about different kinds of punctuation marks here on the blog. Yet, we have always missed out on mentioning the ultimate punctuation mark: the period.


Righting this wrong, this concise article is dedicated to the punctuation mark.


Rules for the Period

Periods are called “full stop” in British English for one particular reason: A period ends a complete sentence. It doesn’t matter if the sentence is short or long, complex or simple, and how many sub-clauses it contains. As soon as there is a period, the sentence is completed. This is valid for all complete sentences that form a statement rather than a question or exclamation.

This had to be said.


Another function the period took over was indicating an abbreviation. Many shortened words or terms end in a period. This includes titles as well as other abbreviations:

Dr., M.D., Mr., Mrs., Prof.
etc., resp., cf.
i.e., e.g.


If a sentences ends with an abbreviation containing a period, do not add another period to end the sentence. The one used in the abbreviation functions as the punctuation mark to mark the sentence as statement as well.

Correct: I did everything! Cooking, doing the dishes, etc. Now it's your turn!
Incorrect: I did everything! Cooking, doing the dishes, etc.. Now it's your turn!


Exceptions to the Rules

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules. In some cases, a sentence does not end with a period, but another punctuation mark:

  • Questions conclude with a question mark: ?
  • Exclamations conclude with a exclamation mark: !
  • Sentences denoting direct speech end in a period-quotation mark cluster: .”

In informal writing or fictional writing, a sentence can also be concluded by an ellipsis, denoting hesitation or an implication.