Friday, April 04, 2008


I'm puttin' the word out on a matter of the utmost importance to the population. Urgent reply requested. Does anyone feel rock-solid certain and comfortable in the use of a semicolon? It's apparently an important enough punctuation mark to warrant not having to hit the shift key, while the lowly colon requires a shift. I don't know about you, but I'm on pretty firm ground with the colon.

The semicolon is an enigma to me. When I feel it may be called for, I fall into a morass of self-analysis; evaluating my writing in terms of dependent and independent clauses, transitional words, etc. I usually end up just starting a new fucking sentence.

What use is the semicolon? And why does it merit such prominent placement on a keyboard?

Again, this is truly urgent. And did I use it correctly in the second paragraph, second sentence? I have no clue.


BruceH said...

As far as the placement on the keyboard, you have to remember the qwerty keyboard was designed to slow down the typist... they were trying to avoid the typebars jamming.

As for use, I use it mainly in technical writing to separate lists of items.

Steve said...

Thanks for the comment, Bruce. I was expecting the comment about design, and I've done a little research to no effect. The major punctuation marks (comma, apostrophe, and period) are placed very well and don't require a shift. To my mind, the colon and question mark are probably the next most frequently used, but they require a shift. They share a key with the much less used semicolon and forward slash.

Keep in mind I'm focusing on the semicolon as used exclusively in writing. I'm a confident badass with the semicolon when it comes to lists of email addressees and other computer related tasks.

MikeD said...

No dice on your usage in paragraph two. The semicolon should be used to connect what could be two complete sentences, so your sentence doesn't qualify.

Have you read "Eats, Shoots & Leaves"? If you haven't, you should. There's a whole chapter on the semicolon (it's a short book).