11 Secret Meanings Behind Punctuation in Text Messages

Technology keeps people connected in fantastic new ways but also introduces troublesome gray areas when it comes to communication. In his first book, 11 Points Guide to Hooking Up, comedy writer Sam Greenspan offers tips for handling dating sites, Facebook Walls and other potentially dating pitfalls of the modern world.

To get a taste of what Greenspan, creator of the 11 Points website, has to offer, check out this excerpt from his book on the secret meanings of punctuation in text messages. 11 Points Guide to Hooking Up hits stores Wednesday.

Sam Greenspan is the creator of 11Points.com and author of 11 Points Guide to Hooking Up.

The way you use an exclamation point can change your dating life.

Texting removes the vocal cues we once used to overanalyze if someone liked us. Now we have to look at 140 to 160 characters — and with less raw data to work with, our overanalyzing hits a whole different level of insanity. One key aspect of that insanity is reading way too much into every nuance of every text message, especially punctuation. So … here are the clues his/her punctuation choices are sending (and also the clues you’re sending right back).

1. Period.

Meaning: You don’t want to keep going back and forth all night.

In texting, you don’t have to end a sentence with any punctuation. It’s totally acceptable to just let it dangle. So using a period gives a certain air of finality to a statement. Compare:

I’m heading out to the party now.

I’m heading out to the party now

In the first one, the meaning is clear: we’ve had our back-and-forth over text, but I have plans, and they do not include continuing this conversation — period. In the second one, without the period, it feels much more open-ended — I’m heading out to the party now but who knows what I’m doing later, and you just might be part of it. Periods end things. Leaving one out keeps things open.

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