‘Dot’, ‘period’, ‘full stop’, and ‘point’ in English

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more (PDF Version).

These four expressions, dot, period, full stop, and point, are often confused by learners. The distinction is actually rather simple. The little dot which you can find at the end of a sentence is called period in American English and full stop in British English, even when you “pronounce” the full stop for emphasis; for example, a father arguing with his daughter could say:

You are not going out with Zack, period. [AmEn]
You are not going out with Zack, full stop. [BrEn]

The term dot is used when pronouncing the character in domain names; for example, “www.jakubmarian.com” would be pronounced

“Double U double U double U dot jakubmarian dot com”

A funny thing to notice here is that WWW is an abbreviation of “World Wide Web” that contains three times more syllables in its spoken form than the term it is supposed to abbreviate.

Finally, the term point refers to the dot glyph used in numbers to separate the fractional part from the integer part (unlike many other languages, English uses a decimal point, not a decimal comma). The numbers after the decimal point are pronounced in isolation, e.g.

3.14 = “three point one four”
36.952 = “thirty six point nine five two”
0.25 = “zero point two five”, or just .25 = “point two five”

This article was based on my guide to the most common mistakes in English, which explains many similar topics. Why don’t you check it out?

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