Why you might not want to end your text messages with a period

What kind of texter are you? Did you come of age in the golden age of textspeak, and are thus only able to compose messages consisting entirely of abbreviations, along the lines of “C U l8r?” Or do your texts read more like the Gettysburg Address: “Four score and seven minutes ago some unknown miscreant brought forth in the break room a new mess, conceived in the microwave, and dedicated to the proposition that it should not be cleaned up by the one who created it.”

If your messages tend more towards the latter type, far be it from younger generations to disparage your dedication to the conventions of proper sentence structure. However, language does tend to evolve, and different communication methods best fit different means and…what we’re trying to say is, although it might be painful, there’s this thing you’re going to have to do, or more accurately not do, when it comes to composing texts. Although it may seem wrong, wrong, wrong to compose a sentence without any type of end punctuation, there’s a reason why you should not end texts with a period.

How a text ending with a period is perceived

Text messages are a relatively new form of communication, and, as such, the rules governing these seem to be evolving more or less organically over time, driven by those who have spent the larger part of their lives using texts as the preferred mode of communication (trying to avoid using any loaded generation-identifier words here, but yes, the younger the texter, the more they’re likely to see this as a native language, rather than something awkwardly adopted after switching over from emails, letters, telegrams, or the Pony Express). 

And according to Quartz, current texting etiquette circa 2020 says most texters interpret a text-ending period to be a definitive conversation ender, and a period may come off as somewhat standoffish, or angry. Others interpret a period-ending sentence as overly-formal for text communication, and even indicative of insincerity.

CBC was even more direct with their interpretation of a study by the department of psychology at Binghamton University in New York, saying that putting a period at the end of your text just makes you seem like a jerk. Of course, many Twitter users were prompt to agree, with the assumption that this should be general knowledge by now. Marketplace, however, notes that there is one type of punctuation mark which, if placed at the end of a message, is even worse…

A period isn't even the worst type of end punctuation…

Did we leave you in suspense there? If you end a text, or worse, an entire conversation, with the mark whose formal name is ellipse (although it’s more commonly known by its descriptive nickname of “dot dot dot”), it just seems kind of…ominous. Or, at the very least, passive-aggressively annoying. You’re not a movie director, your texts aren’t being considered for franchise possibilities, so just say what you mean without trying to create unnecessary suspense or drama.

So, there you have it — no periods (and definitely no ellipses) at the end of your texts, although question marks and exclamation points are still acceptable when appropriate. For now. This doesn’t mean you are free to abandon all rules of punctuation, however. As an example of why punctuation still matters, we leave you with the following two sentences to compare and contrast (having morphed into your 11th grade English teacher, we might as well carry things through): “I love baking, my family, and my friends,” vs. “I love baking my family and my friends.” In other words, if you omit punctuation entirely, we’re certainly not going to accept any cookies (or friend requests) you may have to offer.

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