Should you put a period after one-word "sentences?" For example, my boss frequently emails me this way:


Content content content.


It feels very angry, rude, and standoffish to me and I feel a bit as though it's backed with a dismissive/sarcastic undertone. As if she's not TRULY thankful for my help but rather following some societal requirement for her to at least appear to be grateful.

In other words, I really don't like it. Thoughts?

  • 2
    Is she a foreigner? This isn't an answer, but using a period that way indeed strikes me as somewhat rude, because to an English speaker that would be pronounced in a way that seems short or impatient. However, I think it's clear that the intention isn't to be angry or short ... there would be better and more natural ways to express that sentiment. People misreading tone in text is one of the oldest issues with that type of communication.
    – Jeremy
    Jan 8, 2014 at 21:45
  • 2
    I don’t think “Thanks.” at the end is particularly rude (assuming he also has a closing salutation and/or signature after it), but it is far more common in English to use a comma after an opening line (and also to include something like ‘dear’ or ‘hello/hi’, depending on how familiar terms you’re on and the formality of the e-mail), rather a full stop. Jan 8, 2014 at 21:48
  • It might help if we understood how you would expect it to be written. Are we supposed to take your example literally or figuratively? I haven't got a clue what you're asking, really. Jan 8, 2014 at 21:50
  • Does she use Christian name or surname? Of course if it runs 'Rachel, You are doing a superlative job , Thanks', I wouldn't see much wrong with that. The elephant in the room is what is contained in 'content, content, content'.
    – WS2
    Jan 8, 2014 at 21:57
  • Thank you for the responses - and for the reminder reality check about inferring tone, Jeremy!
    – RBW
    Jan 8, 2014 at 22:20

1 Answer 1


There was an excellent take on this in TNR last month, and it's worth a read. I gather it's generational -- as an older gent I find it really odd that anyone would perceive rudeness in a period, but it seems I'm out of the mainstream.


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