Full stop

Full stop

Full stop
apostrophe ( ’ ' )
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A full stop (British English and Australian English) is the punctuation mark commonly placed at the end of sentences. In American English, the term used for this punctuation is period.[1] In the 21st century, it is often also called a dot by young people.[2] In conversation, as opposed to linguistics, the term is often used to mean "the end of the matter" (For example, "we are calling a full stop to discussions on this subject".)



Fullstop's symbol derives from Aristophanes of Byzantium who invented the system of punctuation where the height of placement of a dot on the line determined its meaning. The high dot (.) was called a "periodos" and indicated a finished thought or sentence, the middle dot (·) was called a "kolon" and indicated part of a complete thought, while the low dot (.) was called a "komma" and also indicated part of a complete thought.[3]



A full stop is used after some abbreviations.[4] If the abbreviation ends a declaratory sentence there is no additional full stop immediately following the full stop that ends the abbreviation (e.g., My name is Gabriel Gama, Jr.) This is called haplography. Though two full stops (one for the abbreviation, one for the sentence ending) might be expected, conventionally only one is written. In the case of an interrogative or exclamatory sentence ending with an abbreviation, a question or exclamation mark can still be added (e.g., Are you Gabriel Gama, Jr.?).


In British English, abbreviations of titles often omit a full stop, as in Mr, Dr, Prof, Rev, Gen, which in American English would be given as Mr., Dr., Prof., Rev., Gen. According to the Oxford A–Z of Grammar and Punctuation, "If the abbreviation includes both the first and last letter of the abbreviated word, as in 'mister' and 'doctor', a full stop is not used." This does not include Professor, Reverend, General.[5]

In this use, the full stop is also occasionally known as a suspension mark. This originates from the old practice of marking the end of an abbreviation with the final letter superscript and a dot beneath it (though still "suspended" above where a full stop (period) would go). Another use of the suspension mark can be seen in examples such as the "c" in "Mc" (e.g., the Rand McNally logo).

Acronyms and initialisms

In acronyms and initialisms, full stops are somewhat more often placed after each initial in American English (e.g., U.S. and U.S.S.R.) than in British English (e.g., US and USSR).[citation needed]

Mathematical usage

The full stop glyph has two alternative uses with regard to numbers. It can be used either as a decimal separator or to present large numbers in a more readable form. The former use is more prevalent in English-speaking countries. In much of Europe, Southern Africa and Latin America (with the exception of Mexico due to the influence of the United States), a comma is used as a decimal separator, while a full stop or a space is used for the presentation of large numbers. The following are examples where the comma is or would be used as a decimal separator:

  • 1.002,003 or 1 002,003 (One thousand and two and three thousandths)
  • 1.002.003 or 1 002 003 (One million two thousand and three)

In countries that use the comma as a decimal separator, the full stop is sometimes found as a multiplication sign; for example, 5,2 . 2 = 10,4. This usage is impractical in cases where the full stop is used as a decimal separator, hence the use of the interpunct: 5.2 · 2 = 10.4.[citation needed] This notation is also seen when multiplying units in science; for example, 50 km/h could be written as 50 km·h−1 (this can also be written as 50 km h−1).

Punctuation styles when quoting

The traditional convention in American English and in Canada is "aesthetic" punctuation, or "typesetters' quotation", where full stops and commas are included inside quotation marks even if they are not part of the quoted sentence. The style used in the UK, and to a less extent in the U.S., is so-called "logical punctuation", which stays true to the punctuation used by the original source, placing commas and full stops inside or outside quotation marks depending on where they were placed in the material that is being quoted. Scientific and technical publications, including in the U.S., almost universally use it for that reason.[6]

The aesthetic or typesetter's rule was standard in early 19th-century Britain; it was advocated, for example, in the influential book The King's English by Fowler and Fowler.

  • "Carefree" means "free from care or anxiety." (aesthetic or typesetters' style)
  • "Carefree" means "free from care or anxiety". (logical style used here because the full stop was not part of the original quotation)

Before the advent of mechanical type, the order of quotation marks with full stops and commas was not given much consideration. The printing press required that the easily damaged smallest pieces of type for the comma and full stop be protected behind the more robust quotation marks.[7] Typesetters' style still adheres to this older tradition in formal writing. It is taught to American schoolchildren when they learn how to draft prose, and is strictly observed in most books, newspapers, magazines, and journals.

References: The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition; Hart's Rules for Compositors and Readers at the University Press, Oxford.

Spacing after a full stop

There have been a number of conventions relating to the spacing after a full stop. Some examples are listed below:

  • One word space (French Spacing). This is the current convention in countries that use the modern Latin alphabet for published and final written work, as well as digital media.[8][9]
  • Two word spaces (English Spacing). The two-space convention stems from the use of the monospaced font on typewriters—the intent was to provide a clear break between sentences. This spacing method has been replaced by the single space convention in published print and digital media today.[9][10]
  • One widened space (such as an em space). This spacing was seen in historical typesetting practices (until the early twentieth century).[11] It has also been used in other mechanical typesetting systems such as the Linotype machine[12] and the Tex system.[13] Modern computer-based digital fonts can adjust the spacing after terminal punctuation as well, creating space slightly wider than a standard word space.[14]

Asian full stop

In some Asian languages, notably Chinese and Japanese, a small circle is used instead of a solid dot: "。" (U+3002 "Ideographic Full Stop"). Notably, in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao usage, the full stop is written at center height instead of on the line: compare Simplified Chinese: with Traditional Chinese:

In the Devanagari script, used to write Hindi, Sanskrit and some other Indian languages, a vertical line ("।") (U+0964 "Devanagari Danda") is used to mark the end of a sentence. In Hindi, it is known as poorna viraam (full stop). Some Indian languages also use the full stop, such as Marathi. In Tamil it is known as "Mutrupulli", which means End Dot.[citation needed]

Urdu uses ("۔") (U+2028) symbol.

In Thai, no symbol corresponding to the full stop is used as terminal punctuation. A sentence is written without spaces, and a space is typically used to mark the end of a clause or sentence.[citation needed]

Use in telegrams

The term STOP was used in telegrams in place of the full stop. The end of a sentence would be marked by STOP, because punctuation cost extra.[15]


The character is encoded at U+002E . full stop (HTML: . ).

Computing use

In computing, the full stop is often used as a delimiter (commonly called a "dot"), such as in DNS lookups and file names.[citation needed]


In programming, it is used in many programming languages as an important part of the syntax. C uses it as a means of accessing a member of a struct, and this syntax was inherited by C++ as a means of accessing a member of a class or object. Java and Python also follow this convention. Pascal uses it both as a means of accessing a member of a record set (the equivalent of struct in C), a member of an object, and after the end construct which defines the body of the program. In Erlang, Prolog, and Smalltalk, it marks the end of a statement ("sentence"). In a regular expression, it represents a match of any character. In Perl and PHP, the full stop is the string concatenation operator. In the Haskell standard library, the full stop is the function composition operator.

In file systems, the full stop is commonly used to separate the extension of a file name from the name of the file. RISC OS uses full stops to separate levels of the hierarchical file system when writing path names—similar to / in Unix-based systems and \ in MS-DOS-based systems.

In Unix-like operating systems, some applications treat files or directories that start with a full stop as hidden. This means that they are not displayed or listed to the user by default.

In Unix-like systems and Microsoft Windows, the dot character represents the working directory of the file system. Two dots (..) represent the parent directory of the working directory.

Bourne shell-derived command-line interpreters, such as sh, ksh, and Bash, use the dot as a synonym for the source command, which reads a file and executes its content in the running interpreter.

See also


  1. ^ The term full stop as the term of punctuation is rarely used by speakers in Canada, and virtually never in the United States. In American English, the phrase "full stop" is generally used only in the context of transport to describe the process of completely halting the motion of a vehicle. See, e.g., Seaboard Air Line Railway Co. v. Blackwell, 244 U.S. 310 (1917) "under the laws of the state a train is required to come to a full stop 50 feet from the crossing", and Chowdhury v. City of Los Angeles, 38 Cal. App. 4th 1187 (1995) "Once the signals failed, the City could reasonably foresee that motorists using due care would obey the provisions of the Vehicle Code and make a full stop before proceeding when it was safe to do so".
  2. ^ Truss, Lynn (2004). Eats, Shoot & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. New York: Gotham Books. p. 25. ISBN 1-592-40087-6. 
  3. ^ Daniels, W.: 1994, De geschiedenis van de komma, SDu Uitgeverij: Den Haag, p. 20.
  4. ^ New Hart's Rules: The handbook of style for writers and editors. Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-19-861041-6. 
  5. ^ Oxford A–Z of Grammar and Punctuation by John Seely.
  6. ^ "Help with Quotation Marks". University of Maryland University College. http://www.umuc.edu/ewc/students/quote.shtml. 
  7. ^ AUE: FAQ excerpt: ", vs ,"
  8. ^ Einsohn, Amy (2006). The Copyeditor's Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications (2nd ed.). Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press. p. 113. ISBN 9780520246881. 
  9. ^ a b Manjoo, Farhad (January 13, 2011). "Space Invaders". Slate. http://www.slate.com/id/2281146?wpisrc=sl_ipad. 
  10. ^ Felici, James (2003). The Complete Manual of Typography: A Guide to Setting Perfect Type. Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press. pp. 80.. ISBN 0321127307. ; Bringhurst, Robert (2004). The Elements of Topographic Style (3.0 ed.). Washington and Vancouver: Hartley & Marks. pp. 28. ISBN 0881792063. 
  11. ^ See for example, University of Chicago Press (1911). Manual of Style: A Compilation of Typographical Rules Governing the Publications of The University of Chicago, with Specimens of Types Used at the University Press (Third ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago. p. 101. ISBN 1145264468. 
  12. ^ Mergenthaler Linotype Company (1940). Linotype Keyboard Operation: Methods of Study and Procedures for Setting Various Kinds of Composition on the Linotype. Mergenthaler Linotype Company. ISBN B000J0N06M.  cited in Mark Simonson (5 March 2004). "Double-spacing after Periods". Typophile. Typophile. http://typophile.com/node/3466. Retrieved 5 April 2010. 
  13. ^ Eijkhout, Victor (2008). TeX by Topic, A TeXnician's Reference. Lulu. pp. 185–188. http://savannah.nongnu.org/files/?group=texbytopic 
  14. ^ Felici, James (2003). The Complete Manual of Typography: A Guide to Setting Perfect Type. Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press. p. 80. ISBN 0321127307. ; Fogarty, Mignon (2008). Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (Quick and Dirty Tips). New York: Holt Paperbacks. p. 85. ISBN 9780805088311. ; Straus, Jane (2009). The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation: An Easy-to-Use Guide with Clear Rules, Real-World Examples, and Reproducible Quizzes (10th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. p. 52. ISBN 9780470222683. 
  15. ^ Julian Borger in The Guardian, February 3, 2006

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • full stop — 1. The principal use of the full stop (also called point, full point, and period) is to mark the end of a sentence that is a statement (as in this sentence). This applies to sentences when they are not complete statements or contain ellipsis (see …   Modern English usage

  • full stop — full stop1 n BrE a point (.) that marks the end of a sentence or the short form of a word American Equivalent: period ▪ Put a full stop at the end of the sentence. full stop 2 full stop2 interjection BrE informal used at the end of a sentence to… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • full stop — noun count BRITISH a PERIOD used in writing come to a full stop 1. ) if a vehicle comes to a full stop, it slows until it is completely still 2. ) to end, especially suddenly or unexpectedly …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • full stop — full stops N COUNT A full stop is the punctuation mark . which you use at the end of a sentence when it is not a question or exclamation. [BRIT] (in AM, use period) …   English dictionary

  • full stop — index check (bar) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • full stop — full′ stop′ n. period 6), period 7) • Etymology: 1655–65 …   From formal English to slang

  • full stop — ► NOUN ▪ a punctuation mark (.) used at the end of a sentence or an abbreviation …   English terms dictionary

  • full stop — n. a period (punctuation mark) …   English World dictionary

  • full stop — noun a punctuation mark (.) placed at the end of a declarative sentence to indicate a full stop or after abbreviations in England they call a period a stop • Syn: ↑period, ↑point, ↑stop, ↑full point • Derivationally related forms: ↑point ( …   Useful english dictionary

  • full stop — 1 noun 1 (C) BrE a point (.) that marks the end of a sentence or the shortened form of a word; period 1 (5) AmE 2 AmE (singular) the state of being completely stopped, usually in a car: The car can accelerate from a full stop to 60 mph in five… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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