Using periods in Italian

Italian punctuation rules are more flexible than grammar rules, but it’s still important for you to know the general guidelines that dictate how to use commas, exclamation points, and periods in Italian.

Let’s start with the definition of a period, or punto (“point”) in Italian: a period is a long pause that allows you to breathe and gives rhythm to your speech. A period can also introduce a new topic or additional information about something. My Italian teacher used to tell us, “tap your index finger once on the table and you get a comma, tap it twice and you get a period”.

big black period, "it's a period, not a doughnot" - "è un punto, non una ciambella"

In this lesson, we’ll see how to use periods in Italian once and for all. You will also find audio recordings to help you understand just what kind of pause a period is.

Iniziamo! Let’s get started!


Using periods in Italian

Put a period at the end of any sentence, just as in English.

Fra due giorni partirò per Londra.
I’m leaving for London in two days.

Abbreviated words such as dott. for dottore (doctor) and pag. for pagina (page) also require a period.

Ho un appuntamento alle 3 con il dott. Franchi.
I have an appointment at 3 with Dr. Franchi.

Vai a pag. 366 per approfondimenti.
Go to p. 366 for more information.

open book filled with colorful sticky notes

You use 3 periods in a row to form an ellipsis, called puntini di sospensione (suspension periods) in Italian. These are used to interrupt a sentence, whether to convey embarrassment or a pause in speech.

Non pensavo che Luigi fosse così… puntiglioso.
I didn’t think Luigi was so … fussy.

Dunque… hai deciso di… insomma, vuoi davvero salire sull’ottovolante?
So … you’ve decided to … I mean, do you really want to ride on the roller coaster?

Finally, some Italian acronyms also use periods.

La coppa piacentina è un prodotto D.O.P.
Coppa piacentina is a P.D.O. product.
(Di Origine Protetta)

You will notice that I didn’t add a second period after D.O.P. This is because in Italian you don’t add two periods in a row.

PDO products, meats and cheeses

And that’s it for our guide to the periods in Italian! If you still have any doubts about them, feel free to leave a comment.


What next?

Aiuta Lingookies con un 👍!

Now that you’ve seen how to use periods in Italian, you might want to keep learning Italian online with these free Italian resources:

Or you might also want an excellent offline Italian grammar resource to take with you at all times (Amazon).

Title: Italian All-in-One For Dummies
Language: English / Italian
Publisher: For Dummies
Pages: 672

Learn to speak Italian like a native? Easy.
Italian All-in-One For Dummies appeals to those readers looking for a comprehensive, all-encompassing guide to mastering the Italian language. It contains content from all For Dummies Italian language instruction titles, including Italian For Dummies, Intermediate Italian For Dummies, Italian Verbs For Dummies, Italian Phrases For Dummies, Italian Grammar For Dummies, and Italian For Dummies Audio Set.

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