Home LanguageGrammar What Are The Differences Between A Comma And A Period? (Clarified)

What Are The Differences Between A Comma And A Period? (Clarified)

by Logan
Comma Vs Period

Punctuation marks are used to clarify the meaning of sentences and phrases. Period (.), comma (,), question mark (?), an exclamation mark (!), colon (:), and semicolon (;) are some punctuation marks.

Punctuation is necessary to make our writing meaningful. While speaking we take pauses, raise our voices to emphasize something, or adopt a questioning tone. These gestures make our conversation more understandable. Similarly, when we write we use punctuation to clarify our meaning.

In this article, I’ll be differentiating the two most commonly used punctuation marks, that is, comma and a period. Both have a different function in a sentence. However, commas have more uses as compared to a period.

Commas are used to take a short pause whereas a period is mostly used to end a statement. Moreover, I’ll also discuss the placement of these marks.

What Does A Comma Mean?

Aldus Manutius (sometimes called Aldo Manuzio) was an Italian scholar and publisher in the 15th century who popularized the use of commas as a means of separating words.

Commas are derived from the Greek term koptein, which means “to cut off.”A comma suggests a small break. A comma is a punctuation mark that divides words, phrases, or concepts within a sentence, according to certain writers.

We use a comma for a pause in a statement that switches from one topic to another. It is used to separate clauses in sentences.

Example sentences

  • Mr. John, the grandfather of my friend, has left for America.
  • Yes, I enjoy riding my bike.
  • Mary, the author of this book, has died.
  • I do, however, enjoy watching movies.
  • Lilly, having locked the door, went away.
Punctuation clarifies our meaning
Punctuation clarifies our meaning

What Does An Oxford Comma Mean?

In several items, the Oxford comma (also called the serial comma) is used.

For example,

  • Please bring me a shirt, trousers, and a cap.
  • My house, car, and mobile phone are three of my favorite things.
  • Ensure that he does not consume any walnuts, bread, and onions.
  • Before leaving on the vacation, we must be sure to pack, clean the house, and turn off the lights.
  • Today, John, Charles, Emma, and Laura will all attend the event.

In the first sentence, the Oxford comma is used right after the word “trousers” because this is the last comma of the sentence. It is mainly added at the end of a list. It is identified as the Oxford Comma because it was originally employed by editors, printers, and readers at Oxford University.

Although it is not used by all writers and publishers, it can help clarify the meaning of a statement when the elements in the list are more than just single words. Anyway, it is not compulsory to use a “serial comma” and you can always skip it.

Basic Uses Of Commas

  1. To separate a clause or a phrase from the rest of the sentence. e.g. Even though Jack prepared for his exams, he failed.
  2. Use a comma to separate a phrase or a noun in a series. e.g. Steve, Alex, and Sarah are all classmates.
  3. To separate the name of the second person. e.g., James, I asked you to keep quiet.
  4. To separate appositives. e.g. Mr. Brown, the person behind this project, is on leave.
  5. To separate nonrestrictive clauses. e.g. The condition of the patient, to tell you the truth, is quite serious.
  6. It is also used before a direct quotation. e.g. He said, “I am amazed to see your progress”
  7. To separate the word “please”. e.g. Could you show me around, please.
  8. It is also placed after words like well, now, yes, no, oh, etc. e.g. Yes, it is true.
A period is also known as a full stop in British English
A Period is also known as a Full Stop in British English

What Does A Period Mean?

Periods are the punctuation marks, which are used to separate lines or reference list components. A period’s principal function is to indicate the conclusion of a sentence.

In addition to exclamation marks and question marks, a period is among three punctuation marks signifying the end of a sentence. It’s a little circle or dot that serves as a punctuation mark. It appears at the bottom of a printed line, without a space, and immediately follows the preceding character.

Periods denote a stop. For spoken English, a person will briefly pause between sentences; in written English, the period reflects that pause. The pause signaled by a period is more noticeable than the pause produced by other punctuation symbols such as commas or semicolons.

A period is most commonly used to indicate the conclusion of a sentence, but it is also used to indicate abbreviated words or material that has been omitted. It also serves as the “dot” in “dot com” in mathematics and computing.

Periods are among the most prevalent punctuation markings in English, accounting for about 50% of the all the punctuation marks used, according to one survey.

A period (also called a full stop) has two roles in English grammar.

  • to finish a sentence.
  • to indicate an omission.

Example sentences

  • They cleaned their lounge room, kitchen, bedroom, and other areas throughout the day.
  • The abbreviation for the United Kingdom is the U.K.
  • She inquired as to why I had skipped school the day before.
  • Dr. Smith teaches us about plant biology.
  • The average cost of items increased by only 2.5%.

Basis Uses Of Periods

  1. Periods are used to bring a sentence to a close.
  2. To finish a sentence with a citation or quotation, use a period.
  3. Periods are used to bring a block quotation to a close (before the citation).
  4. Between reference list entries’ elements, use a period.
  5. Periods are used in specific abbreviations.
  6. In website addresses, we use periods.

The Use Of A Period In American English Vs British English

A period is commonly referred to as a full stop in British English. Aside from the nomenclature, there are only minor distinctions in how a period (or a full stop) is used.

People from the United Kingdom, for example, are considerably more likely to shorten their country’s name, it is written as the UK.  However, within the United States of America, it is written as the U.S.A.

Similarly, American English seems to be more interested in writing someone’s name with a period after it, such as ‘Mr. Jones,’ whereas in British English it is more often written as ‘Mr Jones.’

Apart from these minor distinctions, the period and full stop are employed in similar ways, particularly in declarative sentences.

Learn to use Commas and Periods

The Significance Of Commas

Commas assist the reader in understanding a sentence more clearly. However, using commas wrongly can be confusing to the reader. It signifies a lack of understanding of writing norms or carelessness.

Example of a sentence without a comma

I will go to the market to buy meat vegetables fruit flour and rice.

Example of a sentence with a comma

I will go to the market to buy meat, vegetables, fruit, flour, and rice.

The Significance Of Periods

It is an important part of punctuation. Each phrase will continue into the next if you don’t use a period or a full stop at the end of it. For the listener and reader, this would be confusing. The period marks the conclusion of an idea.

Example of a sentence without a period or a full stop

Food is the third greatest essential source of energy and development for living creatures it is among the most complex chemical groups food has an important role in promoting health and preventing disease food has an important role in promoting health and preventing disease

Example of a sentence with a period or a full stop

Food is the third greatest essential source of energy and development for living creatures. It is among the most complex chemical groups. Food has an important role in promoting health and preventing disease. Food has an important role in promoting health and preventing disease.

The Difference Between A Regular Comma And an Oxford Comma

Although they both are commas, the Oxford comma is referred to as a serial comma. It’s used after each word in a list of more than three things, as well as before the words “and” or “or.”

Punctuation Marks
Punctuation Marks

The Difference A Between A Comma And A Period

CommaPeriod 
The difference in their meaning
A comma is a punctuation mark that divides words, phrases, or concepts within a sentence.Periods are the punctuation marks that mark the completion of a phrase or a sentence. It represents a single complete notion. 
What is the difference in their usage?
We use a comma for a pause in a statement that switches from one topic to another. It’s used to indicate where you should pause in the middle of a statement.A period is most commonly used to indicate the conclusion of a sentence, but it is also used to indicate abbreviated words or material that has been omitted. 
The difference in their symbols
The commas are dots that have a short tail.Whereas, periods do not have a short tail. 
The difference in their purpose
A comma denotes a specific detachment between sentence elements, like the start of a new independent clause or the conclusion of a parenthetical comment.The ending of a sentence is indicated with a period. 
Pause  Stop
The comma represents a pause.The period represents the stop. 
Is there any difference in how they look?  
This is what a comma looks like (,)This is what a period or a full stop looks like (.) 
Example sentences  
My friend is intelligent, hardworking, and above all, honest.
May I ask your name, please? 
She inquired as to why I had skipped school the day before.
Dr. Smith teaches us about plant biology.  
 
Comparison between the two

Conclusion

Hopefully, you’ve learned about the differences between a comma and a period. A comma and a period are two tiny punctuation marks. There isn’t much of a difference in appearance, but their function in a sentence is totally different.

A comma denotes a pause, whereas a period indicates the end of a statement.

We use commas to separate words, while we use periods to finish our sentences. A comma indicates that there is more to come, whereas a period indicates that nothing is left.

The distinctions in appearances are few. But where they can be placed in a sentence has a significant impact. A comma suggests a smaller break whereas a period represents the end of a sentence.

Be careful on how and where to use a comma and a period. Get to know when there is a need to use a comma or a period.

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