Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Don't Fear The Semi-Colon/Punctuation Is Not The Enemy

“I’m afraid of the semi-colon,” a fellow writer said. Don’t fear the semi-colon. It’s just a piece of punctuation. And don’t hate it either. There’s no reason to treat the semi-colon like some undesirable who crashes a party. Some people do though.

Some people are worried they’ll use it wrong but others seem to think it will turn off readers. They feel it has a snobbish quality.  Why not just use a period and be done with it? What, you’re too good for a period?  

The semi-colon is just another punctuation tool we have in our toolbox of punctuation. I need all the options I can get. Anyway it’s a sophisticated and friendly little comma and floating period ;--what’s not to like?

The semi-colon (;) looks less powerful than the colon ( :) , but looks can be, as we all know, deceiving. It is the only piece of punctuation that has the muscle, by itself,  to separate two independent clauses (also know in most circles as complete sentences).  So if you have two sentences that are related, the semi-colon works quite nicely. Or if you have a lot of short sentences and you want a longer one for the sake of paragraph rhythm, it’s there for you.  The only thing you have to be careful about is that you do have two complete sentences (thoughts). A thought and a half (dependent clause, independent clause) will just need a comma.

Embrace the semi-colon.  Just not too often.

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