Linguists Suggest That Young People Are Feeling “Intimidated” By Full Stops In Text Messages

Obsessed andry teenager texting on the phone in black

By Mayukh Saha / Truth Theory

Did you know that a grammatically correct sentence with a full stop can be perceived as rude? It has become common knowledge amongst youngsters that full stops in text messages are used when one doesn’t want to be friendly. Recent research by New York’s Birmingham University has shown that Generation Z is intimidated by full stops. 

Linguistics experts have confirmed that a large population of teenagers see full stops in text messages as insincere. The study further said such a text can also be seen as the sender being annoyed or angry. 

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Gen Z includes teenagers and some individuals in their early twenties. Since this is the population that has grown up with smartphones, the Gen Z culture is big on texting. They have developed lingo around it with their texting techniques and styles. 

The issue was brought back after Rhiannon Cosslett tweeted asking adults if they were aware of this issue. Many adult Twitter users expressed shock and disbelief. 

Adults Express Shock At Gen Z Texting Culture

Experts chimed in at this point, explaining that the younger generation is used to breaking their thoughts up into several separate text messages. Many claimed that full stops in text messages become redundant as sending the text itself indicates its ending. 

A leading linguist from Leiden University, Dr. Lauren Fonteyn, explained that one text in itself is a complete message. And when people add full stops, it gives off a negative tone. 

Owen McArdle, another linguist from Cambridge University, agreed but said that sometimes the formality of the event matters. 

McArdle further said that the youngsters’ texting culture does not see full stops as the norm. And, they can indicate abruptness. 

This issue of language and its style’s development has been a linguistic issue of debate for many years. 

A leading linguist, Prof. David Crystal, claimed that the meaning of full stops has developed. He added that the fundamentals of grammar are on a path of revision. He further gave another example of the punctuation mark and the messages it could send. A punctuation mark sent alone could indicate that the sender is annoyed or angry. 

Prof. Crystal also said that in a fast virtual conversation, people use full stops only to emphasize a point. He also wrote a book on the subject, Making A Point

Full Stops In Text Messages Have Developed A Tonal Purpose 

A Birmingham University study showed that the younger generation sees full stops in text messages as dishonest. 

The research was conducted on 126 undergrad students. And, these students confirmed that messages with full stops seemed impersonal and insincere. On the other hand, messages with exclamation marks were deemed profound and heartfelt. 


Celia Klin, one of the leading researchers, said that while having a face to face conversation, people can rely on gestures to send their message. However, with electronic conversations, gestures and mannerisms are not visible. Hence, texters use emoticons or deliberately misspell words to imitate speech acts. 

And so, full stops in text messages serve a tonal purpose than just grammatical. 

Image Credit: Antonio Guillem

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