What Does PS Mean? Main Takeaways:
- PS is an abbreviation of the Latin term postscriptum, which translates to written after.
- Both PS or P.S. are correct.
- The postscript dates back to an age when letters were handwritten or typed out on a typewriter.
- PS still appears in modern correspondence like emails, and online chats.
- You can express multiple afterthoughts by using PPS, PPPS, and so on.
What Does PS Mean?
PS stands for postscriptum. This is Latin for written after. Post means “after” and scriptum means “written.” Traditionally, the abbreviation PS comes after the main body and signature in a written letter. It’s reserved for an afterthought or additional information not included in the main body of the letter. Back when people wrote letters by hand or typed them on a typewriter, backspace was not an option. If you forgot to mention something in your letter, you had two options: rewrite the letter to include your thought or add is after your signature using PS.
By including a postscript at the end of written correspondence, a letter writer created a place to add missing information or afterthoughts. It served an essential role in letters.
For one, it helped minimize time-consuming do-overs. What’s more, it helped keep correspondence neat and easy to read.
PS may have ancient roots, but it’s still relevant in today’s increasingly digital world.
No doubt you’ve seen a PS in action. From informal chats to direct marketing campaigns, almost any kind of correspondence can use this small statement.
Once in a while, you might also hear people use it in verbal communication to add extra emphasis to a thought or statement.
How is PS Used?
Use PS to add something you forgot to mention in the main body of any correspondence. This includes letters or emails. Place the letters PS immediately below your signature line. Next, place the line or lines of text you want to add right next to the PS. For digital correspondence like Whatsapp messages or Tweets, it’s common to add your PS using a new message. This helps show extra emphasis. You can write PS with or without periods after each letter.
I’m sorry we never got to have lunch before I left. My flight time was moved unexpectedly, and I had to grab a cab and go. I didn’t even have time to make a phone call. I hope you’ll forgive me.
P.S. You won the bet fair and square, and I still owe you a fancy dinner!
How to Punctuate PS
Capitalizing both letters is the correct way to go. However, there’s an on-going debate among grammarians on whether to use periods or not.
The bottom line is that there isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. Additionally, proper usage may vary depending on which style guide you follow.
For instance, the Cambridge Dictionary suggests that common usage differs depending on your country of origin:
- British English leans toward PS
- American English tends to prefer P.S.
Another source of debate is trailing punctuation:
- Many believe the PS should be free from additional punctuation.
- Others typically include a colon to separate the letters from the statement or question that follows.
Going Digital: The Postscript Evolves
The coming of the digital age meant that the PS had to evolve or risk becoming obsolete.
Now, computers and word processors help us effortlessly edit and reprint documents. This all but eliminated the need for a postscript. And, made it almost as ancient as it’s Latin name.
Unlike Latin, the PS stayed alive. It evolved to become more of a stylistic choice.
The modern PS is a way to add an extra touch to correspondence, including emails. It’s outgrown being just a tool for missed information or afterthoughts.
Here are 7 of the Best ways to use PS Today:
1. Emphasize a Subject
A postscript lets you reiterate an important point that’s already been addressed in the letter. This helps create emphasis where it’s most needed.
This is partially because the PS creates a visual break from the rest of the letter. It helps highlight a single point, both visually and thematically.
2. Add Charm to Correspondence
Postscripts can be used to add a smart, funny, or sweet touch to a letter. This use helps leave the reader with something to savor.
3. Add Information That’s not Relevant to the Main letter
You may have a fantastic thought you want to include in your letter. But, what if it isn’t relevant to the rest of your correspondence?
In this case, using a PS is ideal.
4. Be Argumentative
Have the last word in an argument with a firm PS. A postscript can let you effectively punctuate an argument with a final line or two. Make yourself as clear as possible.
5. Leave the Recipient With a Parting Thought
The PS is an effective tool for sharing a parting thought or takeaway. Really sell it using a PS this way.
6. To Express an Important Sentiment
Since it can be used to convey the deepest of sentiments, it’s no surprise that the postscript has a timeless connection to love letters. A true love letter just isn’t complete without a touching PS.
7. Deliver a Call to Action
In direct mail campaigns, the PS is often used as a marketing strategy. Use it to promote special offers, share testimonials, or deliver a call to action.
In a world where people often skim large chunks of content, many will stop to read the PS. The fact that it is separate from the rest of the letter creates a clean and visible break. This helps highlight the information.
What Does PS Mean in Chat?
The PS also makes regular appearances in social media chats (otherwise known as instant messaging). These fast-moving, real-time conversations can lead participants to forget to share information. The PS gives them a way to add it back in.
Just as the postscript represents an afterthought in traditional letter writing, it plays a similar role in this more modern form of communication.
It lets chatters throw out an idea or information after the main conversation has moved on.
This isn’t a thing for older people, either. PS is popping up in Gen Z threads on Twitter, Snapchat, and WhatsApp.
Joana: Nice! Starts around 8.
Rechelle: I’ll swing by then.
Joana: P.S. Don’t forget to bring an appetizer. It’s a potluck!
When a Postscript Isn’t Enough
Let’s face it. Sometimes a single afterthought just isn’t enough. In fact, sometimes one afterthought leads to another, which leads to another, which leads to… a compound PS.
Thankfully, you aren’t limited to a single postscript. Here’s how to share multiple afterthoughts in your correspondence:
- Place the letters PPS (aka post-post-scriptum) or PSS (aka post-super-scriptum) on the line below your initial PS to add a thought or information
- Place the letters PPPS (post-post-post-scriptum) below the PPS or PSS to add another line for afterthoughts.
- Continue adding PS to the front of the abbreviation as many times as necessary to express your thoughts.
A PS to our PS
Many letter writers believe that the postscript is quaint and should be obsolete. Maybe it should fade away alongside handwritten letters, typewriters, and Latin.
Others consider it as much a part of correspondence as a greeting, closing, or signature.
Regardless of popular opinion, the PS can still be found everywhere, from chat boxes and marketing emails to epistolary novels.
The point of language is to communicate how we feel and the ideas we have. If the postscript is a tool that helps you do that, go for it. Conversely, if it seems too stuffy for your personal style, no worries.
By knowing how and when to use this traditional correspondence add-on, you add yet another literary tool to your content creation repertoire. Bring charm, emphasis, and personality to any type of correspondence.
PS: Try This Quick Postscript Quiz
What Does PS Mean Question #1
The answer is TRUE. “P.S." translates to written after, and it expresses an afterthought in written correspondence.
PS Meaning Question #2
The answer is D. American English tends to use “P.S.,” while British English favors “PS.”
Postscript Question #3
The answer is B. Since “P.S.” appears after an email's closing, it's not ideal for greeting the recipient.
PS Question #4
The answer is D. You aren’t limited to a single postscript.