Connecting the Dots, Period

Crocuses

The period. It’s probably the simplest punctuation out there, right? Well, yes, generally speaking, it is. Which should make this post a nice, easy read. For those of us hanging on in Eastern Ontario, desperately awaiting Spring’s arrival, I think nice and easy is a good way to start the week.

We use a period to indicate the end of a declarative or imperative sentence. And occasionally, periods are used after a single word, usually to emphasize said word or the sentence that it follows. Here are some examples:

  • Old Man Winter had too much to drink and couldn’t find his way home. (Declarative.)
  • Hey, Winter, stop snowing on my crocuses. (Imperative.)
  • Spring should have been here by now, right? Yep. (After single word.)

One area that can cause some confusion is when dealing with placing a period in a sentence that contains parentheses. Typically, the rule is as follows: if a complete, independent sentence is within parentheses, the period will also be there. However, if the clause or sentence in parentheses is included within another complete sentence, the period will fall outside of the parentheses. Here are examples of both:

  • Given her extreme tardiness, people were beginning to wonder if something had happened to Spring. (Some worried that the Seasonal Goblins had taken her hostage.)
  • The woodland nymphs organized a search party (since parties were their specialty).

So we know when to use a period, but when should we leave it out? Well, you wouldn’t normally put a period at the end of a title (be it a book, chapter, article, column in a table, etc.), a heading, a date in correspondence, a signature or an address.

As with many things, it’s only when you start adding more that periods start to get complicated. These are known as ellipses and suspension points and they aren’t really that tricky to understand. In fact, they are essentially the same thing.

Ellipsis Points

Ellipses indicate the omission of a word, phrase, or more from a quote. The omitted text is usually not relevant to what is being discussed, but the ellipsis points show the reader that text is missing. Ellipsis points always occur as three spaced periods (…) and must always appear on the same line together.

  • The Rules of the Seasons clearly states: “all Seasonal Deities are responsible for ensuring prompt arrival in their respective season of all necessary staff, including nymphs… and shall be held liable for any failure to adhere to their responsibilities.”

Suspension Points

Suspension points are typically used in dialogue and indicate hesitant or fragmented speech. Suspension points look exactly the same as ellipsis points (…) and should always appear on the same line together. They can also be combined with other punctuation, as required by the dialogue.

  • “I… um… I think someone thumped me on the head,” Spring said, rubbing her crown.
  • Old Man Winter tried not to look guilty, “But… no… it wasn’t me! Ah, forget it.” He grabbed the last bottle of wine and headed for the exit.

And that is all you will ever need to know about periods, period.

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Image credit: IllimityPhotoxpress.com

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7 thoughts on “Connecting the Dots, Period

  1. Ahh I always wondered where the period went if a parenthetical sentence was separate from a normal sentence. I thought it would go outside of the parenthesis. Like so:
    Given her extreme tardiness, people were beginning to wonder if something had happened to Spring. (Some worried that the Seasonal Goblins had taken her hostage).

    1. Thanks for commenting Nandini! I’m glad you found this post helpful. Those parentheses are tricky, aren’t they? (I’ll be doing a post on them someday soon.) 🙂

  2. There is much more to simply placing dots, commas, exclamation marks, inverted commas, colons, semi-colons and the like than first perceived. My brain is spinning, thank you so much for your informative posts Suz (hopefully I get this right.) 🙂

    1. Sorry to make your brain spin! But thank you for reading and commenting — I’m glad you found it informative. You’re close — periods go on the outside when the clause sits within the greater sentence (like this). 🙂

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