The dreaded semicolon. . . of DOOOOOOOM!!!

The semicolon has been known to divide loving families into shouting melees, and to send careers down in flames. It is the most contentious and passion-inducing piece of punctuation – and the most addictive.

How NOT to use a semicolon:

1. Frequently. I once had an editor add more than a dozen semicolons to a single page of a story (and there weren’t any lists). When I politely pointed out that he’d let his punctuation run away with him, he took another look and soon apologised profusely. My peeps, don’t let over-semicoloning happen to you!

2. To show off. This is particularly true in academia, where the person marking you has been scarred by both #1 and #3. Between Year 11 and the end of university (which was heavy on English courses) I discovered that a significant number of teachers and lecturers were so passionately opposed to semicolons – any semicolons – that they would mark essays more harshly if a single semicolon was spotted lurking (correctly or otherwise) in the text. For this reason, I did not use semicolons in essays for six years. I honestly recommend you do the same.

3. Incorrectly. If in doubt, use a comma. It will be correct.

Moving on, here is a simple tutorial on semicolons, with pretty pretty pictures to help you through the strain of intellectual effort on a Saturday morning. Enjoy.

And here is Ana. . . lurking like a semicolon gone bad:

6 thoughts on “The dreaded semicolon. . . of DOOOOOOOM!!!

  1. My BM at work sent it round. I know I forwarded it on to others, which may have included CJ. twould be funny if it came via me 🙂

  2. I’m sure I’ve mentioned (or you’d noticed) my shameful past semi-colon addiction.

    Eventually, it got to the point where I was using three or four in every SMS and I had to look myself in the mirror and admit that I had a problem…

    Just know, kids… know that there is hope!

    Look at me now! These days I rarely use even a SINGLE semicolon! (Too easy to fall back into my dark old ways…)
    Yep, I’ve moved on to a full-blown ellipsis addiction instead…!

    (As for their usage, I’ve always thought of them as the punctuation mark that evolved into the dash – you know, like that one)

    • Ben: I agree. You do have an ellipses issue. I also agree that the dash is super handy in place of semicolons – and it’s practically impossible to get wrong.

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