Monday, February 27, 2012

An Ode to the Gentle Semicolon

I'm sitting in my office at this very moment to print out a grammar exam for my students.  I normally just check for grammatical understanding within their papers, but this semester, I decided to formally assess and reward in an exam format. 

Lucky them. 

Different sections carry different weights.  Writing a sentence with a semicolon, for example, matters much more than using a comma after an introductory clause.  At least it does to me.  It's because the semicolon symbolizes so very much in the world of writing with flair.

If you can use a semicolon, you understand the romance between sentences; you see how one sentence flirts with and amplifies the other.  If you can use a semicolon, you're offering a complex sentence structure that unveils the complexity of your own mind.  You're an expert.  You have authority.  You have insight. 

The semicolon reiterates.  It's a gift to the reader with its gentle nudge of explanation.  It's the most considerate of punctuation marks; it offers another way to understand and another way to see.  While the colon insists, the semicolon suggests

Here.  Hold my hand.  Come on this journey with me. 

I love the gentle semicolon. 

How is your writing life today? 


Matt Cook said...

I couldn't agree more.  The great unwashed do not understand how to use punctuation as an effective writing tool.

Live with Flair said...

 Thank you, Matt.  I knew you would understand!

Roberta Beach said...

So cool! After reading your book, I use the semicolon much more than I previously; hopefully, in a manner befitting its proper usage.