Thursday, May 19, 2011

#%*$& You, Semi-Colon! (Writer, Edit Thyself)


Ah, the oft-misunderstood semi-colon.

It really only has three functions in modern punctuation.

1. Joining two independent clauses.* This implies the two clauses are related and/or equal, or perhaps one restates the other.

The boys and I are on our own this weekend; we'll eat too many hotdogs and watch cartoons.

2. Use semi-colons between items in a list that already involve commas.

I have lived in Clay Center, Kansas; Manhattan, Kansas; and Lawrence, Kansas.

3. Making that funny smiley thing I use too often.


That's it.

Make peace with the semi-colon. Please. I hear the rapture is coming this weekend, and I wouldn't want semi-colon hate on my head.

Write Hard!

*independent clause is a fancy way of saying "sentence". An independent clause is a string of words which can stand on its own.


Sage Ravenwood said...

Ah, the teacher outs himself ;P.

I happen to like the semi-colon. For a descriptive writer, the little priceless moniker of pronunciation comes in handy.

Speaking of the rapture, someone on Twitter mentioned, they were going to take sets of clothing and shoes they no longer wanted to place all around the city. Diabolical or what? I love the idea. (Hugs)Indigo

Lorna D Keach said...

I love the semi-colon, it's like word jewelry! Nothing spices up a paragraph like a few dashes and semi-colon accessories. So posh.

Aaron Polson said...

Indigo - I have to flaunt what I have. Maybe I should let the little inner teacher out more. I might leave some clothes lying out, too. Sounds like fun.

Lorna - Posh indeed.

Barry Napier said...

I love semi-colons. I overuse them and I know it. I use Atlas Shrugegd as my defense. GREAT book, amazing writer...there are something like 30 semi-colons in the first chapter I believe.

Tony said...

I do enjoy semicolons, but I also defer to the master:

"Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college."
Kurt Vonnegut

James Everington said...

Oh I love a good semi-colon. Although not technically a rule of grammar, I always think of Virginia Woolf when I use them: when you're reading the sentence back to yourself (and good prose should always sound good aloud) then a small pause is a comma, a longer one a semi-colon, and a big one a full stop.

Not grammatically sound, but when you think about it suits the meaning of the word 'punctuation' perfectly...

Aaron Polson said...

Barry - Atlas Shrugged. I knew there was something about you... (I kid, I kid)

Tony - Kurt Vonnegut knew his sh*t.

James - It does makes sense. We've had to muck it up with "rules".

Paula RC said...

What can one say? To fall in love with a semi-colon is heaven ;-)

Fox Lee said...

Semi-colons: allowing countless people to flirt online.

Katey said...

Mmmmm winky emoticon is the best!

It's amazing how that particular punctuation mark was of absolutely no use to me... until I started writing historical fiction seriously. Jesus.

Cate Gardner said...

I love my semi-colons; although I probably misuse them. Like now. ;)

Anonymous said...

I admit to being a semi-colon abuser. I; am; now; in; a; twelve; step; program. I'm; only; on; the; first; step; though.

Laura Eno said...

I like semi-colons, although I try not to use them two much. It's funny how Word keeps trying to get me to use one between an independent clause and a dependent one. I don't need more messing with my brain. ;)

K.C. Shaw said...

I'm late seeing this one, but I had to join the semicolon lovefest. I love semicolons so much I have to edit them out when doing revisions. They let me make such long and lovely sentences.

Danielle Birch said...

Am late too. I'm fond of the semi-colon.