The difference between “dot”, “period”, “full stop” and “point” in English

These four terms often confuse people because we translate them all into English with the word “period”, but the difference is actually quite simple. A period at the end of a sentence is called a period in American English and a full stop in British English, even when we pronounce it for emphasis – for example, a father arguing with his daughter might say, “You’re not going out with Zack, period.”

  • You are not going out with Zack, period.
  • You are not going out with Zack, full stop. [Br. Ang.]

The term dot is used when we read domain names. For example, “www.wat4english.com” would read

“Double U double U double U dot WatFourEnglish dot com”
It is worth noting here that WWW stands for “World Wide Web”, which when read has 3 times more syllables than the name it abbreviates.

Finally, point is the term we use for a decimal point (English doesn’t use a decimal point, so 3.14 would be written 3.14). So we read:

  • 3.14 = “three point one four”
  • 36.952 = “thirty six point nine five two”
  • .25 = “zero point two five”, or also just .25 = “point two five”