Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Grammar Brigade: Semicolons, the forgotten punctuation

I was going to do a lesson on using semicolons.  However, I cannot possibly outdo The Oatmeal's semicolon lesson.

I can, however, paraphrase it for those too lazy to follow the link, or those who fear being sucked into The Oatmeal's endless supply of ridiculously funny pages.  (Go ahead and bookmark the page for later.  You know you want to.)

Semicolons are usually used to connect two independent clauses together.
ex:  I love morning glories; my mother loves hydrangea.
This should only be done when the two independent clauses are actually related.
NO!: I love morning glories; Sister Anne drove the van to a conference in Italy. :NO!

They can also be used in sentences wherein there are already commas (for the purposes of clarity.)
ex:  I have visted Austin, Texas; Memphis, Tennessee; Juneau, Alaska; and New York, New York.
ex:  My teacher, Mr. Norris, loved apples; and when finished eating, he would bury the cores under piles of nasty, steamy tar.

Questions, besides why Mr. Norris loves to bury apple cores beneath tar?


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  2. (darned non-edit button)
    My first publisher asked us to keep semicolons to a minimum, because the young women of today just don't understand them and it would be a turn-off.

    My first editor at that publisher told me to get rid of every last semicolon in the manuscript, no matter how much it was needed. (I managed to slip six by her.)

    When I self-publish that ms, I will be sure to reinstate most, if not all, of them! Semicolons of the world, unite! (Or would that just make a big blob?)

  3. No... semicolons??? But they're my favorite punctuation! I hope my editor is kinder. Or at least more trusting in modern-day women's intelligence. Semicolons unite!