Semicolon; where art thou?

The semicolon has an identity crisis, followed by a midlife crisis, and ending in a burnout; made redundant by the WWW. He is an ambiguous being, both the end or a continuation yet at the same time not quite being both or either (or was it aither?). The love child of a full stop and a comma. It is no wonder this strange little marking is the bane of many an existence. How the do you use it, why not use a comma or a full stop instead? And that is indeed what has happened: the semicolon has slowly,or quickly depending on whether you count time in internet years or normal non-connected years, started to disappear,even from polite society.

Though the semicolon has never been the most popular of punctuation marks but it does have a purpose, and though I might be burned at the metaphorical literary stake for saying this,  I do like it. I feel a bit cheated, I just started to understand how to use it when BAM it is on a style sheet telling me that it is not to be used.

Perhaps I just like the indecisive nature of this little ingenious little creature. It’s a coma, no it’a a full stop, it kind of looks like a colon, but no, it’s a mighty semicolon; nightmare of many and fledgling writer, a Kafkian editors meeting gone horribly wrong. The friend to the run on sentence, a pseudo-intellectual’s dream and real intellectual’s eye-rolling, shoulder-shrugging frenemy.

Use it when you’ve run out of commas and parentheses, use it when there is no other alternative, and above all use it in a context no one can ever contradict. Don’t mind those pesky dangling modifiers, the split infinitives and stranded prepositions. Strike up your feather pen and write the semicolon

Love it or hate it, I really do hope the semicolon doesn’t disappear, though if it must then at least I’ll get to write a blog post about it.

Write many semicolons!


(If you want an awesome explanation on the semicolon, see what Oatmeal has to say; that is, if you haven’t already.)


11 thoughts on “Semicolon; where art thou?

  1. Oh, I’m a HEAVY user; I think they’re cool! The purists; snobs! I even THINK in semicolons! Rules? I break em; it’s how I “roll.” Sometimes, I even use them; incorrectly; just to draw attention to them!

    Oooh, the snobbery; stamp out semicolon snobbery! Semicolons; unite!*

    *Yes, there is a pun there….

    Great post, Sofia! 😛

  2. I think it’s been maligned because people who know how to use it are considered “show-offs.” I think that attitude reflects a more general bias against higher education, a dumbing down of sentence structure. Just a thought. It’s early, and I’m feeling cranky. :o)

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