Saturday, 31 August 2013

Semiconscious Semicolons

The simplest way to explain the semicolon: a comma is sleepy, a period is asleep, and a semicolon is semiconscious.

 The main function of the semicolon is to mark a break that is stronger than a comma but not as final as a period. It is used between two main clauses that are closely related. 

        - The path to the castle is paved with stone; trees line and shade the travelers.

        - The chef searched for the pots and pans; the dragon helped to save time.
It can also be used where the conjunction is left out and instead of having two sentences.
     - The dragon summoned the royal councilman for an answer; he had no answer. 
     - The king had paid a heavy price for the potion; he was very pleased.

It is preferable to use a semicolon before introductory words such as however, therefore, this is, for example, namely, or for instance when they introduce a complete sentence. A comma usually follows the introductory word.
     - The dragon liked to prepare his specialty dishes; namely, onion-a-la-tart, onions-ta-da, and onion stuffed squid.

The semicolon is used to separate items of a series when one or more of the items contains a comma.
     - The dinner party included the puny army, from the Land of Messogie; Bograt, the bog witch; and Duce Crablips, from the faraway Kingdom of Crablips.

Use the semicolon between two sentences that are joined by a coordinating conjunction when one or more commas appear in the first part of the sentence.
     - The dragon promised to mop the floor, clean the dishes, and throw out the onion peels; and a promise is a promise.
Seimicolons are follow by lower case letters, unless the letter is the first letter of a proper noun. 

      - Several castles were in a state of disrepair; Longstride Castle being one of them.

Modern usage recommends no space before a semicolon, and one space after it.

For a more in depth look at semicolons:

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copyright, Diane Mae Robinson, 2013