How Many Spaces After A Period?

It depends.

Mignon Fogarty,
Episode #181

Now, on to pets. Bryan Garner from Garner's Modern American Usage says "that" and "which" are the appropriate pronouns to use for anything non-human, but that makes me wonder if he's ever had a dog.

I can't imagine referring to my dog as anything other than "who." My fish could be a "that," but my dog? She's definitely a "who." Perhaps someone else's dog could be a "that"?the dog that tore up my lawn?for example. But my dog is the dog who snuggles up to me at night.

The AP Stylebook seems to use similar logic when it comes to personal pronouns and pets. For example, they state that it's OK to call an unidentified animal "it" or "that."

Earlier, we reported on a cat that was stuck in a tree.

But they note that once the animal has a name, it merits a "he" or "she." (5) 

The firefighters rescued Fluffy from the tree. She rewarded them with a boisterous meow.

I believe it's a style choice, and I recommend "who" for pets who feel like part of the family, and "that" for animals that don't.

While you're here please check out the other great Quick and Dirty podcasts. I'm Mignon Fogarty, author of the New York Times bestseller, Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, and you can find me at Twitter and Facebook under the username GrammarGirl.


1. "Periods," The Chicago Manual of Style Online. http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/ch06/ch06_sec013.html (accessed July 30, 2009).

2. "Periods," The AP Stylebook Online. http://www.apstylebook.com/online/index.php?do=entry&id=3544&src=AE (accessed July 30, 2009).

3. "How many spaces should I leave after a period or other concluding mark of punctuation?" MLA Handbook FAQ Webpage, January 15, 2009, http://www.mla.org/style/style_faq/style_faq3 (accessed July 30, 2009).

4. Garner, B., Garner's Modern American Usage. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003, p. 836. 

5. "Animals" The AP Stylebook Online. http://www.apstylebook.com/online/index.php?do=entry&id=175&src=AE

 Further Reading
Sentence Spacing (Wikipedia Featured Article)



About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

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