Full stop

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Punctuation

A full stop (British English) or period (American English)[1] is the punctuation mark commonly placed at the end of sentences.

Contents

History

The full stop 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 indicated a part of a complete thought.[2]

Usage

Abbreviations

A full stop is used after some abbreviations.[3] 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. Logically there should be two full stops (one for the abbreviation, one for the sentence ending), but only one is conventionally 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.?).

Titles

In British English, abbreviations of titles often omit a full stop, as in Mr, Dr, Prof, Rev, Gen, Sen, Rep, which in American English would be given as Mr., Dr., Prof., Rev., Gen., Sen., Rep. 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, Senator, or Representative.[4]

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