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# Tuesday, December 7, 2004

I just thought I'd blog briefly about the semicolon; I've been wanting to do it for some time; it was in fact the first thing I intended to blog about in this category, but I just haven't gotten around to it until now.  The nice thing about the semicolon is that it is actually quite simple; there are no long lists of exceptions to rules, and there are really only two basic uses for it.

In college, I was known for my excruciatingly long and difficult sentences; I suppose I did this in order to seem more intellectual; that is, I figured if my sentences were difficult to read, yet grammatically correct, my professors might be more inclined to give me good grades--perhaps even comment on how impressive my sentence structures were--because I managed to use almost every (but not necessarily every) grammatical structure and punctuation within one sentence so that it would become as long as a relatively long paragraph and still be one, single, grammatically correct sentence, assuming you consider the period to be the end of a sentence.

In case you didn't notice, I just did that.  Were you getting tired towards the end of it?  In fact, I did have some professors comment on it, but really it was just more of an intellectual exercise for me.  The point I want to illustrate is that if you add the semicolon to your grammatical repository, you can immediately and easily add new and interesting variations to your sentence structures. 

The semicolon can be used in place of a comma in large lists where you might otherwise confuse a reader because, for instance, you have a list of lists (all of which use commas themselves).  It can also be used--and this is the usage I find most valuable--to separate two independent clauses that are closely related.  If you find that confusing or too vague, just try using a semicolon the next time you go to use “, and.” 

To illustrate, the following sentence could be written like so:

I went to the doctor yesterday, and the nurse was very nice.

But you could also write it like this:

I went to the doctor yesterday; the nurse was very nice.

You can also scan some of the paragraphs above for other examples.  You may be wondering, then, what the difference between a semicolon and a period (a.k.a., a full stop) is.  The key thing to keep in mind is that a semicolon implies a closer relationship between the two clauses than a period does, and as you read it, you should pause for a shorter amount of time than you would with a full stop.

I think you'll find that the semicolon does in fact help you to vary your sentence structure more and even helps you to better express yourself; I know I have.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 7, 2004 10:37:49 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [2]  | 
Sunday, February 20, 2005 5:55:47 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
So you've explained the semicolon. You also showed the use of the hyphen in a very similar way to your use of the semicolon. Well?
diff between ; and -
Monday, February 21, 2005 11:07:50 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Dashes...
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