Don’t be afraid of periods.


Somewhere, a teacher just fainted.

Spacing, grammar, spelling, and, yes, punctuation matter. Not just because your former English teacher said so, but because all of these things provide clarity for the reader.

The English language is very confusing sometimes, but that’s why it’s so important for writers to constantly improve their knowledge about grammar, spelling, and punctuation, regardless of what format they use or who their audience is.

My biggest pet peeve with writers (and coworkers, friends, and just about everyone else), is that many don’t know how to properly use a period.

Why are writers so afraid of periods?

Periods are the smallest punctuation mark of them all. They have the simplest rules. You can create long, flowing sentences before you use them. Or short sentences. It’s up to you as the writer. Yet many writers often use commas and overuse exclamation marks instead of using periods.

So, in the spirit of my favorite grammarian and punctuation pro, Grammar Girl, here’s a few tips on using the period: 

  • When starting a letter or email, do not write:

Hello Sam,

I beg you. Please stop doing this. You are greeting Sam. This sentence is complete. Don’t leave it hanging with a comma. If you don’t believe me, listen to Grammar Girl. The correct way to greet Sam is this:

Hello, Sam.

  • Use periods most of the time. This relates to a common writing rule in journalism: Rarely (read “never”) use the exclamation point. I once had a college professor say they only wanted to see one or two exclamation points in a long essay or story. So, use periods instead, unless, of course, it’s a question.
  • Avoid run-on sentences. A comma is like a breath. It is fleeting, but it helps move along the story. A period is an ending. Writers, allow your sentences to end. They won’t die when you end them. They will continue to live on the page squished nicely between other sentences.

Challenge: If you struggle with ending your sentences, take the leap now. End them! Let them live amongst other sentences. If you are a punctuation pro, share your punctuation pet peeves down below in the comment section.

If you liked this mini rant on punctuation, please buy me a cup of coffee.


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