December 09, 2011

Scary Semi Colons

I stumbled across this the other day and needed to share it with the world. (Or at least people who happen to see this blog.) I absolutely LOVE the way this article on theoatmeal.com presents the uses of the ever dreaded semi colon.

Admittedly, the semi colon has always seemed the most misunderstood of the punctuation marks to me (And also one of my favourites). If it was a writing genre, it would be epic poetry or the limmerick. (Due to its reputation of being terribly difficult.... so, sort of like Meriah Carey... but she isn't misunderstood at all.)

Basically, if you want two clauses (read 'full ideas') to be associated, the semi colon is the best way of making sure that the link is maintained between them. But make sure that each can stand on their own before linking them that way. If not, a colon might be the better punctuation mark to use. (It also affects the pace the the statment is read/spoken. A period would require a full break and breath whereas the semi colon allows the thought to continue.)

Secondly, if you have a list which is a bit complex and requires commas within the list itself, use semi colons to separate the elements of the list.

And mostly, don't be scared of them! Semi colons won't bite. I promise.

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