Monday, January 28, 2013

Semicolon Junkie


I am a semicolon junkie; I absolutely crave semicolons and use them as often as I can in my writing. 

Using a semicolon is a deliberate, stylistic choice; as a result, I love them.

The semicolon is dual in nature; it resembles both the comma and the period, and its function is a little of both. When used in place of either, the eye flies over it almost as fast as it would a comma; however, it also yields for a nanosecond (but doesn’t come to a complete stop) like it would for a period. 

The primary function of a semicolon is to connect two closely related sentences (main clauses or thoughts); consequently, the savvy eye knows to search for the connection.  It might be in the form of an extended explanation; it might be in the form of a comparison or a contrast (most often an antithetical statement).

It mends the comma splice; it fixes the run-on sentence; it signals a pause when in the presence of a conjunctive adverb or a transitional expression.

Sometimes the semicolon is used to thin a congestion of commas in a sentence; it can also eliminate a surplus of short sentences in a paragraph. By substituting for unnecessary or clumsy conjunctions, prepositions and other excess wordage, the sentence is streamlined; its meaning is tightened. The semicolon can also bundle a series of short sentences into denser, more complex sentences; thereby, it smoothes the paragraph’s choppy staccato into a more liquid rhythm. 

The next time you encounter a semicolon in print, stop and marvel at this mysterious maverick of the punctuation world; furthermore, challenge yourself to use the semicolon more often in your writing.  

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