Is it just me or has anyone else noticed the flexibility of punctuations? Sometimes I feel the rules are inconsistent, I remember a certain instance when I used a semicolon instead of a comma and one of my reader was livid because of it. I was pretty positive I used it appropriately because I actually got the sentence from a published novel. What are your thoughts?
Hmm, that’s not as reliable as it used to be. Anyhow, there are no hard and fast rules for this. There are subtle differences between using a semicolon and a comma, and people have differing understandings of what each punctuation mark represents. Punctuation marks are really there to reflect how you—the writer—would speak the sentence aloud. If people don’t understand the purpose of your punctuation, they will misunderstand how you want the sentence to be read, so it pays to choose your marks carefully.
Anyhow, we can’t really say much else unless you show us the sentence.
You don’t want to know them. You got the sentence from a published novel? Did you cite the source or just “use” it anyway?
A semicolon is generally used to complete a thought in a sentence that would otherwise have two subjects and two predicates. In other words, it is used to link two independent clauses together into a compound sentence.
Just because you “got the sentence form a published novel” doesn’t mean it was correctly proofread. Even the best of editors can make a mistake.
The rules haven’t changed. It just seems that people are frequently ignoring all kinds of them lately.
I think that’s the answer I was looking for. Cheers!
A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.
‘Why?’ asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
‘Well, I’m a panda,’ he says, at the door. ‘Look it up.’
The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. ‘Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.’
I know you want me to laugh, but I don’t panda to that sort of humor.
Great thread. I have not seen such a humorous discussion on punctuation in a very long time. I have to agree with Ralph, yet there are many people who choose to completely obliterate punctuation. I have come to the conclusion that those people are either punctuation dyslexic or punctuation phobic…
Oh, and I just love when some people overuse commas or a semicolon. For crying out loud; can we just make two full sentences? LOL…
And don’t get me started on people who use ‘lol’ as punctuation
i just can’t bear it
Who said anything about using that as punctuation LOL
I might be one of them. At least regarding the semi column. Never understood the use of that one.
To complicate matters, punctuation rules aren’t the same in all languages. So if I make a mistake it isn’t my fault, it’s just my mind mixing different languages…
Yeah, blimey, I’ve never even heard of that one.
You mean semicolon, of course. To be honest, I love the semicolon, almost as much as the dash. A semicolon is a stronger break than a comma, but not as strong as a period / full stop. I use them often; but I don’t use them unless really justified.
it’s just my mind mixing different languages…
Don’t forget the languages of male and female.
An English professor wrote the words:
“A woman without her man is nothing.”
on the chalkboard and asked his students to punctuate it correctly.
All the males in the class wrote:
“A woman , without her man , is nothing.”
All the females in the class wrote:
“A woman : without her , man is nothing.”
No, not quite all of them. One wrote:
“A woman without, her man is nothing.”
The uses of the semicolon fall into two main categories.
First: to separate things when a comma would be insufficient or unclear. For example, consider a list of steps for some home improvement project and one or more of those steps contain commas. If you were to separate the steps with commas, then the commas in the steps and the commas for the list structure would cause confusion about where one step ends and another step begins. In cases like these, one should use semicolons to separate the items in the list to avoid the confusion.
Second: to link together two or more distinct ideas that are nonetheless related to one another where one wants to emphasize the existence of the relationship. For example, consider the example in the previous paragraph that sprawls across several sentences. The logical relationship between them is clear, but I could have used semicolons to combine them into a single sentence in order to emphasize the existence of the relationship.
There you go introducing colons when the question was about when to use or not use a semicolon.
I believe punctuations are an important part of writing. But there is no need to be so livid about it. There are some people who don’t use punctuations at all, so a comma instead of a colon doesn’t make a lot of difference.
Hmm. This thread is five months old, essentially dead, and it’s been revived by someone who doesn’t think proper punctuation is necessary for good writing. Let’s just close this thread, shall we?