Dot, period

Discussion in 'English Only' started by arquero, May 25, 2008.

  1. arquero Member

    Dear collaborators:

    I would like to know the difference between "dot" and "period". I teach English and I am trying to explain the difference to a student.

    Best regards,

  2. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    I assumed that you're referring to the punctuation mark used to end a sentence. Like this one --> . <--.

    It's known by AE speakers in the U.S. as a "period" and by BE speakers as a "full stop." I know that it's called "dot" by some, but I don't know where it is used as such or how widespread this use is.
  3. audiolaik

    audiolaik Senior Member

    Isn't a dot used when reading an Internet or email address, or computer files?
  4. valskyfrance Senior Member

    I agree with bibliolept.
    And I think that "dot" is used for e-mails. :)
  5. johndot Senior Member

    English - England

    Dots are used lots
    (in Morse Code)

    (Remember that?)
  6. lizzeymac

    lizzeymac Senior Member

    New York City
    English - USA
    Hi -
    In American we call the punctuation mark that ends a sentence a 'period.'
    As Audiolaik says, 'dot' is used in computer file names, internet addresses, and email addresses.
    I think most Americans still use dashes "-" in our telephone numbers, not "." eg 212-555-1212.
    I would say the file name resume.doc as 'resume dot doc,'
    the email address would be 'lizzeymac at server dot com,'
    the website would be 'wordreference dot com.'
  7. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I agree with everyone's answers so far. I just wanted to add a bit about the difference in a general sense.

    A dress print with dots would never be called a dress print with periods.
    A large yellow dot marking a sale item would never be called a large yellow period.

    In other words, a dot is a much broader term than the punctuation known as a period. I believe dot is substituted for period in email addresses, file names, and other names because it is much easer to say, "wordreference dot com" than "wordreference period com".
  8. El escoces Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    English - UK
    Interesting also - oh dear, am I digressing? - that English chose "dot" for verbalising website addresses etc and not "point" (as in decimal numbers) whereas Spanish DID choose "punto".
  9. johndot Senior Member

    English - England
    So an itsy bitsy teeny weenie yellow poker-period bikini is out of the question then?
  10. El escoces Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    English - UK
    Groan. (It was polka dot, incidentally, a design style from the 50s (?)) The to put a stop to this. Period.
  11. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    The word period as used here denotes something complete, something that has come to an end, from the Greek and Latin meaning cycle or circuit or a complete sentence. So this particular dot is named after its function in punctuation; to denote completeness. This is probably why it isn't used to mean dot when merely referring to the shape. It was used in Britain to mean "full stop" for centuries, and I suppose, technically, it is still the correct word for that.
  12. El escoces Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    English - UK
    Those of an older generation in the UK would use "period", as Matching Mole suggests, when dictating (letters etc) to signify the end of a sentence and the start of a new one. Nowadays, "stop" is more commonly heard ( as an abbreviation for full stop).
  13. Unknoewn13 Senior Member

    New Jersey
    English - American
    I also use "dot" (in America) to denote an ellipsis (the three "dots" used to omit part of a quoted sentence or signify a pause - "..."). When reading a text, for example, that uses an ellipsis, I would actually say "dot dot dot" like: "I would go - dot dot dot - but I can't" to mean "I would go...but I can't." However, this is likely VERY colloquial.
  14. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Speaking as one of a somewhat older generation who was taught how to use a dictaphone, I find this surprising. I don't recall being told to say period at the end of a sentence; full stop, or stop was the instruction. Mind you, that was a very long time ago.
  15. El escoces Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    English - UK
    I tended to use stop but I can recall colleagues using "period", and secretaries (at least of a certain vintage) not finding it unusual. I was reared on dictaphones as well...what do they use now?

    Unknowen13, I would also "dot dot dot" if reading (or dictating) an ellipsis aloud, so it applies on both sides of the Atlantic and I don't think it's that informal. I agree it's unusual, though, to mention a punctuation mark aloud. I recall a new secretary, several years ago, and before she got used to my dictation style, typing "stop" a couple of times instead of adding a full stop; I'm sure she once did the same when I said "paragraph" to indicate an instruction to start a new one. Sadly that story is completely true and not in the least apocryphal.
  16. Unknoewn13 Senior Member

    New Jersey
    English - American
    That's actually very cool I guess I won't feel so weird if I'm reading aloud "dot dot dot" and feel obligated to clarify that I mean an ellipsis.
  17. El escoces Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    English - UK
    I think I would feel pretty weird reading "ellipsis" aloud because the majority of listeners nowadays would be likely to say "huh?" (or, if they are polite Americans, "excuse me?")
  18. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    You are falling into the abyss of BE vs. AE and inconsistent usage as well.

    A '.' is used for more than one purpose and has many names.

    The British call is a full stop when ending a sentence, but in America, we call it a period

    Yet, back in the days of telegraph, telegrams often were read as stop at the ends of sentences. Morse code, of course, was a series of dots and dashes - at least in the U.S.

    And, as others have pointed out, computer networking tends to use dot as in IP addresses, "165 dot 230 dot 223 dot 56" or dotcom companies or www dot duckswild dot com, etc. (at least in the U.S.)

    But it's also a mathematical operator, where in the U.S., we say "decimal point" as in "The temperature today was 57 point 6 degrees. (Some countries use the comma (,) as the decimal operator, however)

    In aviation frequencies in the U.S, we say "point" as in "Contact ground control on 121 point 9."

    On the other hand, international usage, as provided by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) would be "Contact ground control on 121 decimal 9."

    And, all of this is in addition to polka dots (which have nothing to do with the dance) and the dot on the letter 'i.'

    Unfortunately, it's one of those things that just has to be learned in the context of where you are.

    Good luck
  19. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    Even Americans used "STOP" to end sentences in a telegram. Punctuation marks were not part of the code, but the price of sending the telegram was based on the number of letters. Several "PERIOD"s would be just that much more expensive.

    The computerese "dot" used to bother me, as saying "dash" for "hyphen" still does, because a "point" (or "period") sits on the line, but we used a "dot", above the line close to the top of most lowercase letters, for multiplication ("dot product", etc.) and other purposes.

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