I was wondering when should I use point instead of dot and vice-versa. Could anyone help me with that?

In the sentence I had to write that made me think about this, I was going to say that the user entered a value with dots (i.e. a monetary value).

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    Do you mean the decimal point as in $10.75 versus a period (or full stop) that comes at the end of a sentence? Like this one. – Frank Jun 11 '14 at 14:09
  • Yeah same question as @Frank's. – Jimi Oke Jun 11 '14 at 14:15
  • And then of course there's something like which is definitely "dot". – Andrew Leach Jun 11 '14 at 14:17
  • I wasn't even thinking about 'periods' because I understand this is more for 'ending' sentences(.) I'd say the following example: I'll spend US$1000.50 (point) to release version 8.1 (dot) next week.(period) – periback2 Jun 11 '14 at 14:22
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    Never say "What's the dot of it all?" – Oldcat Jun 11 '14 at 21:26

Point seems to be more British.

Dot seems to be more American.

I think for number though we would probably just say decimal or decimal point.

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    In AmE, the decimal is often read as "point": 10.12 would be ten point twelve. Currency would be read out as dollars and cents: ten dollars [and] twelve cents. In BrE, I believe the cents/pence is often dropped: ten pounds twelve. In no case have I heard AmE speakers refer to monetary values using "dot", though I grant it just might not be part of my dialect. – Kit Z. Fox Jun 11 '14 at 14:20
  • @KitFox I'll concur, though I'd say that "ten pounds twelve", "ten-twelve", "ten pounds and twelve pence" would all be likely, the last less so but more plausible when a remnant of the old coin names gets used ("ten pounds and tuppence") which is old-fashioned but not yet dead. – Jon Hanna Jun 11 '14 at 14:40
  • And do you say zero or oh? 0.0032 – skan May 28 '16 at 10:03
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    @KitZ.Fox I agree except that it isn't "ten point twelve" it's "ten point one two", numbers to the right of a decimal point should always be read out as individual digits. However "ten dollars twelve" for "ten dollars twelve cents" is perfectly correct but then the decimal point is not spoken. The reason that numbers to the right of the decimal point are read out like this is that the numbers extend differently from those to the left, imagine 10.1209, that is very little different from 10.12 but "ten point one thousand two hundred and nine" sounds as though the fractional part is much larger. – BoldBen Jun 10 '19 at 0:16

We would use "dot" in the context of a web address, for example "google dot com". An example I can think of for the usage of "point" would be when you're talking about a decimal value, for example "10.2%" would be spoken as "ten point two percent". With regards to currency, I have never seen someone use "dot" or "point", just something like "five pounds ten pence", "five pounds ten" or "five ten". Hope this helps.

  • Also software release numbers and paragraph numbers should always be "X dot Y dot Z" and so on because no number can have more than one decimal point. Not only that but decimal points should, theoretically, be placed above the line and the level numbers are usually placed on the line. The fact that keyboards don't, usually, have a true decimal point key just adds to the confusion. – BoldBen Jun 10 '19 at 0:20

You want something that is unambiguous in the context. Neither point nor dot is going to be as clear here as the two-word term "decimal point".

The user entered a value with a decimal point.

It's hard to see that being read as anything else. That said:

*They entered a value of ten decimal-point oh-three.

Would not be normal, though "ten point oh-three" would.

More generally, point and dot are used for overlapping symbols (overlapping because e.g. · and some other symbols are generally not called point but are called dot) along with period and stop more often in terms of how they are used than the mark itself. Hence it is almost never period in this context, for example.

The use varies with forms of English too. The only real guide is to check on definitions for the context at hand at the time, to pick one that is both known to your target audience (i.e. if aiming at an international audience then period is probably to be favoured today over full stop for that use) and as unambiguous as you can get.

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    Saying ten point oh-three doesn't make you tough, unless you are the Chuck Norris of spelling. – Frank Jun 11 '14 at 14:46
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    @Frank that tempts me to leave that typo alone. – Jon Hanna Jun 11 '14 at 15:01
  • As you've fixed it maybe I should delete my comment, unless .... – Frank Jun 11 '14 at 15:11
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    @Frank like Chuck Norris, I didn't edit the post; I just stared at it until it edited itself out of fear. – Jon Hanna Jun 11 '14 at 15:17

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