Using full stops in messages makes you sound 'angry', according to linguists

woman shocked by text
Using correct grammar? You may be coming off more aggressive than you intended. Photo credit: Getty.

If you're the type of person that needs every message to be perfectly grammatically correct, it turns out you might not be putting forward the vibe you think you are. 

According to linguists, the use of punctuation - specifically full stops - is intimidating to a lot of young people, because it comes off as a sign of 'anger' in social media messages. 

By 'young people' we mean Generation Z, that cohort of TikTok users born after 1995, who have grown up messaging over text and social media platforms where correct punctuation isn't often used.

"If you send a text message without a full stop, it's already obvious that you've concluded the message. So if you add that additional marker for completion, they will read something into it and it tends to be a falling intonation or negative tone," tweeted Leiden University's Dr Lauren Fonteyn. 

It backs up the results of a 2015 study conducted by linguists at Binghamton University in New York, which found that text messages ending in a full stop, like "lol." were considered less sincere.

Lead author of the study Celia Klin said at the time: "When speaking, people easily convey social and emotional information with eye gaze, facial expressions, tone of voice, pauses and so on.

"People obviously can't use these mechanisms when they are texting. Thus, it makes sense that texters rely on what they have available to them - emoticons, deliberate misspellings that mimic speech sounds and, according to our data, punctuation."

The debate was brought back up online recently after Guardian columnist Rhiannon Cosslett wrote in a now-deleted tweet: "Older people, do you realise that ending a sentence with a full stop comes across as sort of abrupt and unfriendly to younger people in an email/chat? Genuinely curious."

According to replies, several Twitter users agreed that full stops could be misinterpreted.

"My dad texts like this and it always reads as though he's furious with the recipient," wrote one person. 

"Just asked 16-year-old son - apparently this is true. If he got a message with full stops at the end of sentences he'd think the sender was 'weird, mean or too blunt'," wrote UK author Sophie Hannah.

This will not be news to a lot of people who have received an "Ok." text from their partner, but it means if you're texting anyone born after 1995, it might pay to replace that full stop worth a few smiling emojis. .