Tuesday, October 13, 2015

You're Not the Only One Who Doesn't Know How to Use a Semicolon

Today in class, I spend an unusual amount of time rationalizing and explaining the proper use of a semicolon. These are my older students in Advanced Writing who should know but do not. We all should know but do not. The semicolon is the most beautiful and misunderstood punctuation mark!

I explain it's a romance; the second independent clause connects to the first, enhancing it, loving it.

That doesn't work. Nobody imagines the semicolon romancing anything.

Then, I explain it this way:

I'm tired in class. I went to a party last night. 

The period shows no relationship between these thoughts. But the semicolon? Try this:

I'm tired in class; I went to a party last night. 

This sentence shows the relationship; you have a because.

A because? I have a new thought here! 

I never thought of explaining the semicolon as a replacement for the word "because." I'm so excited! I'm jumping up and down; the semicolon replaces because! It does! It really does!

I'm off to try my hand at more semicolons; using them makes me strangely happy.

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