Weekly Literacy Focus
February 6th 2017
Hated by some, revered by others: the semi-colon is the marmite of punctuation. Use wisely!
Kurt Vonnegut – "transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing."
US, Donald Barthelme - "ugly as a tick on a dog's belly…. We Yanks distrust nuance and complexity”.
“Hemingway, Chandler and Stephen King”, said McIntyre, "wouldn't be seen dead in a ditch with a semi-colon (though Truman Capote might). Real men, goes the unwritten rule of American punctuation, don't use semi-colons."
John Irving declared himself an unrepentant fan of semicolons.
Philip Hensher of the Independent defended the semicolon as "a cherished tool, elegant and rational."
And blogger, Kathy Schenck, maintained she still liked the semicolon. "It's like a slur in music, leading you to the next thought without making you stop to rest."
What is it?
Stronger than a comma, but not as final as a full stop.
The semicolon or semi-colon (;) is a punctuation mark that separates major sentence elements. A semicolon can be used between two closely related independent clauses, provided they are not already joined by a coordinating conjunction (and, but etc).
DO – use a semi-colon when two sentences are so closely related that a full stop would be too strong. Do use semicolons for complicated lists.
DON’T – use semi-colon with ‘and or ‘but’ (except in a list). For example: Jenny likes football, but Simon prefers hockey. Or Jenny likes football; Kevin prefers hockey.
And a You Tube video to explain further:
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