Grammar

Is Instant Messaging Killing the Period Punctuation Mark?

An author of more than 100 books on language says one of our oldest punctuation marks, the period, is slowly going the way of the dinosaur.

David Crystal says the period, that magical little dot that has helped readers know when one sentence ends and when the next begins for centuries, is falling out of favor.

How could this be? How could we possibly do without the period?

Simple, he says: we already are doing so regularly; just check your smartphone’s instant messages and count how many texts you’ve received that don’t end with a period (assuming they’re a complete sentence at all).

A New York Times article, which is extraordinarily annoying in its total lack of periods at the ends of its sentences still manages to make the point. There’s just one problem with their “illustration.” It’s clear in that article when a sentence ends, for the most part, because it’s also when a paragraph ends.

The last paragraph you just read had three sentences in it. Think of what a nightmare that paragraph would have been if it lacked them.

But when you’re making each sentence its own paragraph, I suppose you can get away with a lot, whether it makes sense or not.

I guess I’m too stubborn.

When I send a text message, I actually use proper punctuation. And, believe it or not, I actually go in and make sure it’s spelled correctly. Even with the larger screen surface of an iPhone 6+, it’s still sometimes difficult to hit the right “buttons” on the screen. But if auto-correct doesn’t correct my mistakes as I type, I go back and correct it before sending.

Yes, spelling and proper punctuation take a couple of seconds longer.

But not making that effort seems to me like I’m showing disrespect to whomever I’m sending the message in the first place.

It’s the same with this blog. The last thing I want to do is annoy those who take the time to try to read what I write here by not putting in the effort of using proper punctuation and grammar. That’s not to say I don’t ever make mistakes, but it I am saying I try harder than some I’ve seen to catch them before I hit publish.

As for this particular new “trend” in punctuation, you can rest assured you’ll still find periods in use here.

Do you think periods are unnecessary these days?

3 Comments

  1. Never mind  not using periods, I am a executive director of a small non-profit and the emails that I receive from other professionals are written like they are texting, Very unprofessional.
    I realize that many people use their smartphones to write emails but they still use it like they have to get everything in 140 characters. My grammar isn’t the best but at least I try to use complete sentences and punctuation and I avoid using abbreviations.
    I recently received this email “R U GTM 2day?” After much head scratching I finally decoded the message:to read “Are you going to the meeting today?”

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.