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The Period or Full Stop
Punctuation. What would life be like without it? Sure, schoolchildren might rejoice that there would be less homework. But when you stop and think about it, there might actually be more homework. Anything we read would be so much more confusing.
Because of the period, we are able to automatically see where one thought ends and another begins. Thanks to quotation marks, we automatically know when the person speaking changes. Because of the question mark, we know when a question is being asked. Because of the comma, we know when items are in a list or when parts of a sentence need to be separated.
Imagine living in a world where punctuation didnít exist. For example, the first sentence from the classic A Tale of Two Cities (my apologies to the great author Charles Dickens) would appear as written below.
It was the best of times it was the worst of times it was the age of wisdom it was the age of foolishness it was the epoch of belief it was the epoch of incredulity it was the season of Light it was the season of Darkness it was the spring of hope it was the winter of despair we had everything before us we had nothing before us we were all going direct to Heaven we were all going direct the other way in short the period was so far like the present period that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received for good or for evil in the superlative degree of comparison only
Without punctuation, the only way we could know where a sentence ends and another begins is with capitalization. But there are only four capitalized words in the above sentence, so that wouldnít work either. Iím sure you can find a copy of the above sentence written in the correct manner. It is much easier to understand.
Even shorter sentences are confusing without punctuation. On her way to meet someone at the Empire State Building Mary did the following she fed the ducks in the park picked up her clothes from the cleaners and went to the grocery store.
The period, or full stop, is the most commonly used form of punctuation. It appears at the end of sentences and after abbreviations. The rules for the use of the period are simple.
1) A period is placed at the end of a complete sentence.
The sound of the balcony doors shattering abruptly drew me out of what had been a deep and peaceful sleep.
2) A period is place at the end of abbreviations.
Mr., Mrs., Jr.
3) But what if the last word in a sentence is an abbreviation that ends with a period? That period also serves to signal that it is the end of the sentence. There is no need to have a double period.
Tylerís dream was to become a M.D. Only 4-years-old, he had many years of school ahead.
4) A period is used to end an indirect question.
She asked where her books had been hidden.
A period is also used in math, for example $4.32, and in internet addresses such as www.BellaOnline.com.
Iím sure you can see just how necessary the period, or full stop, is and how much clearer it makes reading.
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