The full stop, called a period in the USA, is the easiest punctuation mark to understand. Along with the exclamation and question marks, the full stop is used to signify the end of a complete statement; it is also used to indicate a word that has been abbreviated.

Consider this text:

I looked at the referee it was five minutes to full time this was always a dangerous part of the game we had a one-point advantage and a goal by them would see us lose the game.

Quite clearly, this passage contains a number of statements that cannot be separated adequately by commas. Although semicolons might help somewhat, full stops followed by capital letters are the best option to make sense out of these words:

I looked at the referee. It was five minutes to full time. This was always a dangerous part of the game. We had a one-point advantage, and a goal by them would see us lose the game.

Full stops are also used to indicate certain abbreviations (where the first letter of the word is used but not the last):

Although it is still common in the US to use full stops for contractions (where the first and last letters of the word are used) and acronyms, the practice nowadays in Britain and Australia is to eliminate them from common abbreviations:

Tip: If you wish to know what the acronyms used above stand for, hover your mouse over any of them and the full name will appear. [It’s magic!]

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