Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

how to use the word period in English

Do you know how to use the word “period” in English?

Here are a few examples:

  • If you could have lived in any other time period, what would it be?
  • That’s the answer, period!
  • Oh she has horrible cramps because she has her period.

Can it really be possible that “period” has that many meanings?

Isn’t this just a word to end a sentence?

Isn’t it just a punctuation mark?

If you have ever thought about the word “period” you are not alone.

It is in fact a punctuation mark, but it can also be used in a sentence as well.

It’s a word that has multiple meanings, which adds to the overall confusion.

We get plenty of questions about the word “period” because it can tend to be one of the more confusing ones.

How can a word be a punctuation mark AND a word, as well as have multiple meanings?

We’ll show you the answers to these questions today.


Here are some examples:

  1. Menstrual period: A woman’s time of the month, her menstrual cycle Example: She has cramps because of her period. 
  2. Period: To firmly end a sentence, thought, or order. It may be said with strong emphasis such as when the person is angry. It can come across rude at times, and this is often because of the anger or frustration that the person feels delivering the message.  Example: You can’t go to the party, period. Our relationship is over, PERIOD!
  3. Period of time: An era of time which people lived. Example: They lived during the Victorian period and you can tell by the way that they dressed. They were married for such a short period of time.
  4. Punctuation mark, the end of a sentence: Example: I think you need a period at the end of that sentence.
  5. Class period: In schools, separating of the time during the school day. Example: I have gym first period and then history second period. 


All Ears English TranscriptsMake sure you understand every word you hear on All Ears English.

Bring your English to the advanced level with new vocabulary and natural expressions.

Get the transcripts from today’s episode.

Learn to speak naturally with the American accent.

Click here to subscribe and save 50%


There are multiple meanings for the very same word.

Don’t let this discourage you but make it a fun little challenge. 

The idea of a word having different meanings is nothing new, we’ve seen this before.

Remember that the best way to get the hang of them is to practice using them.


Here’s a little quiz so that you can figure out which use for the word “period” is correct.

A: Can you text me before next period to let me know the answers to the test?

B: Sure thing

Which one is that?? Class period!


A: Oh no, I don’t feel so well. I need some tylenol.

B: Maybe you’re getting your period.

Which one is that? Menstrual


A: I told you to call me when you got to her house. You didn’t, so now you can’t go there anymore.

B: But mom!

A: You can’t go there anymore. Period!

Which one is that?? Final, a bit rude, stern


A: Hmm, I think you need a period here for the sentence to make sense.

B: You’re right!

Which one?? Punctuation


A: I can’t believe you finished your homework in such a short period of time.

B: What can I say? It was easy!

Which one is that? Time


When you see them in practice like this it’s actually much easier than you might realize.

Again practice makes perfect with any of these so the more that you try them out, the better you will get at them.



When you learn a new word, you can usually see multiple definitions if the word actually has multiple definitions.

Listen for context clues when these words are used.

They may not always be obvious, but sometimes that one little clue can help.

Try using the word in one way for a while and then switch to a different way.

It will become more familiar as time goes on.

You will master this and start using words like this in everyday conversation. 


What questions do you have from today?

Please let us know in the comments below.

  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)
  • US_ListenOn_AmazonMusic_button_black_RGB_5X
  • App-Store-Button
  • google-play-badge
  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)
  • US_ListenOn_AmazonMusic_button_black_RGB_5X