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In Spanish, we have different names for the different types of periods:

  • If the period is inside a paragraph, it's called punto seguido.
  • If the period ends a paragraph, it's called punto y aparte.
  • If the period ends the whole text, it's called punto final.

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I'd like to know if there are similar names in English because I didn't found anything about that. And Merry Christmas!

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  • As someone who speaks Spanish, but is not a native speaker, I was introduced to these concepts by Juan Luis Guerra's Carta de Amor.
    – Kirt
    Dec 26, 2023 at 5:08
  • punto y aparte is: period new paragraph. If you are speaking but it is more often said in Spanish. It's an idiom.
    – Lambie
    Dec 26, 2023 at 18:56
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    I'm sorry to say, English doesn't even recognise the differences you're Asking about. Dec 27, 2023 at 0:17
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    Note that the UK English name for the sign is full stop, sometimes abbreviated in dictation to stop. There are no names for a full stop that include the additional meanings you have described.
    – Peter
    Dec 27, 2023 at 2:26

3 Answers 3

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As others have posted, English does not have different names for periods in different positions.

However, possibly relevant:

I use speech recognition software and dictate much of what I would otherwise type.

When dictating, if I am staying within a paragraph, I say "period". If I am starting a new paragraph I say "period", followed by "new paragraph" or "end paragraph". And if I am dictating a message, I might terminate by saying "period", followed by "send" or "end message".

These phrases might be useful for the Spanish speaker who wants to express these distinctions in English:

"Period" or the more explicit "period (at) end (of) sentence".

"Period, end paragraph" - "period (at) end (of) paragraph".

"Period, end document" -- "period (at) end (document)".

These phrases naturally generalize to any chunk of text - "Period, End Message", or section, or chapter, or quote[*] or verse or line (of poetry) or ... Similarly for any form of punctuation, e.g. "question mark, end paragraph". Even "comma, end paragraph" - which is not considered grammatically correct, but nevertheless can be expressed.

These are not official or standard phrases in English, but I believe most English speakers will easily understand them. They might be used in a quick and dirty translation, although a good translator will usually find expressions more natural to English.

BTW, "new paragraph" feels more active, e.g. when dictating text to a secretary or a program, possibly jumping around while editing, whereas "end paragraph" is more descriptive, e.g. when something is being read back to you. But these distinctions are fuzzy.

Similarly, one nearly always says "begin quote", followed by the content, and then "end quote". Alternatives: open/close or left/right. But you would not say "new quote" or "next quote" unless you are in a list of quotes. I.e. "new paragraph" or "next paragraph" terminates the current paragraph and starts a new item of the same type.

Note *: Should you place a period inside or outside quotation marks? In one survey Americans said "yes." In another survey, "Britons said "no". Source: [Canadian college webpage][1]

[1]: https://libguides.royalroads.ca/punctuation-capitalization/period#:~:text=The%20American%20style%2C%20which%20is,(Lee%2C%202011%2C%20para.

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  • The answer from Djin is OK, but I'm accepting this because I find it more practical and direct to the whole point of the question. BTW: I think quotation marks just delimit a quoted text, so they could either enclose the period or not. You can say ‘cheese’, but you could also say: ‘I am. Therefore, I think.’ . However, if you have many sentences it's recommended to remove quotes and indent the quoted text; so usually quotes won't enclose the period. Anyway, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
    – tac
    Dec 26, 2023 at 2:13
  • Typical style guides suggest that complete quoted sentences include the terminator within the quotes, but fragments retain the terminator from the quoting sentence outside.
    – Pekka
    Dec 27, 2023 at 2:59
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In English, we can distinguish the sentences within a paragraph, such as the first or opening sentence, the last or closing sentence, and often a topic sentence that states the main idea of the paragraph. Each and every sentence requires its own period, all these periods are typographically and functionally identical, and no period has a special name according to its position within a paragraph or written work.

The last sentence of a paragraph thus has its own period, but I've never seen this period afforded a special name, nor have I seen the last period of a work or chapter referred to as the "final period." In other words, periods function to end individual sentences and also happen to end paragraphs or written pieces. It is spacing/indentation and not the last period that actually determines the end of each paragraph and the start of the next.


I wonder whether what you describe for Spanish is a technique for dictation or dictation exercises where the speaker pronounces punctuation (or even "meta punctuation") to convey normally unspoken or subtly spoken formatting information. Dictation aside, once students understand the role of the period in sentence construction, focusing on and categorizing the periods when teaching paragraph construction seems like an unnecessary complication.

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    That terminology is certainly used in dictation. But it's also used one talking about text. E.g. "here this should be punto y aparte" (meaning "open a new paragraph") and so on.
    – Pablo H
    Dec 25, 2023 at 22:58
  • @PabloH i can see it as a useful shorthand -- we'd say something like "let's make this the last sentence and start a new paragraph" or an editor would insert a new paragraph symbol (¶). Do you also use this symbol or do you have a different one that's based on the period?
    – DjinTonic
    Dec 26, 2023 at 0:30
  • @PabloH i can see it as a kind of shorthand -- we'd say something like "Let's make this the last sentence and start a new paragraph" or an editor would insert a new paragraph symbol (¶). Do you also use this symbol or do you have a different one that's based on the period? In theory, you could invent something similar to distinguish the capital letter that starts the next sentence in a paragraph from the capital letter that starts the first sentence in the next paragraph. Sort of a façon de parler.
    – DjinTonic
    Dec 26, 2023 at 0:39
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    I'm not familiar with the editorial profession, sorry. Lay people don't normally use that symbol, apart from where it appears in MS Word or similar.
    – Pablo H
    Dec 26, 2023 at 0:41
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    @PabloH I see. Students of English are familiar with this paragraph symbol, because teachers use it when correcting/grading schoolwork like compositions. It saves teachers and editors from having to write out "new paragraph." I think that's another reason we don't see a need to categorize the periods themselves.
    – DjinTonic
    Dec 26, 2023 at 0:48
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This isn't really a concept that English speakers find necessary to name, but one term you could use for punto y aparte would be "paragraph-final period". For punto final, you could use "text-final period". For punto seguido, you could use "paragraph-internal period" or "intra-paragraph period".

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  • 3
    Your “paragraph-internal period” would be an “intra” rather than “inter” paragraph period, wouldn’t it? Dec 25, 2023 at 21:11
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    @MichaelMacAskill Thanks, fixed. Dec 26, 2023 at 4:19
  • punto y aparte would be in talking: Period New Paragraph. Anyway, it's an idiom in Spanish but not in English.
    – Lambie
    Dec 26, 2023 at 18:57

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