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82130 No. 82130
#Discussion #Grammar
I have reviewed a few pieces on this board, and I have noticed that many people haven't used a semicolon where they could have to great effect. I wondered why, but then I came across a quote from Kurt Vonnegut: "Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college."

How very untrue!

It may feel pretentious to use semicolons, but they really are a fantastic construct! I decided that I, as a writer, owe all the beginners a lesson in semicolons.

Their use is very simple: they link together two sentences--as long as they're related. For example: the sun shone brightly; it was hot. You can instantly see the advantage of using semicolons. You can write compound sentences without conjunctions! (ie and, or, nor, etc.)

They can also be used as a comma's comma--a comma used to list objects that already have commas. For example: I've visited Boise, Idaho; Boston, Massachusetts; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

I really want to see more of you use this punctuation. It really is great once you get around to using it.

Questions or comments? I think you know what to do.

Also, try saying pretentious punctuation five times fast.
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>> No. 82132
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>Also, try saying pretentious punctuation five times fast.
>> No. 82142
It all depends on the context; semicolons can make sentences flow nicely. As for when their use is allowed:
>> No. 82158
Kurt Vonnegut argued against the use of semicolons, but many other writers argue against em dashes, which Kurt Vonnegut used quite liberally.
>> No. 82282
Which is why I am not too mad at him. Just a little.
>> No. 82285
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Kurt Vonnegutt is my literary hero. That said, I disagree with him on semicolons. They have their uses, just as the emdash does. Dofic writers tend to over use them? Hell yes, but what I really hate are freakin' ellipses. That's a topic for a different thread, though.

The semicolon conjoins independent clauses, separates comma descriptive lists outside a colon, and signals an end line on most programing languages. It's not a comma, it's not a period, it simply conjoins two independent clauses. I wouldn't go using it in dialogue though.
>> No. 82297
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>Hell yes, but what I really hate are freakin' ellipses. That's a topic for a different thread, though.

Kill them all!

>I wouldn't go using it in dialogue though.

You'd lose your other eye if you did that.

Here's my opinion on semicolons, which is the equivalent of some drunk coming up to you and saying "Ya know what I think" then telling you the story of his life; nobody wants to hear that shit, but I digress.

I take a similar stance to Vonnegut insofar that I believe the semicolon will draw unnecessary attention to itself due to it being an esoteric form of a punctuation usually seen in formal prose rather than fiction writing. Another point to be made is that the independent-independent sentence structuring tends to be awkwardly phrased, poorly paced, and generally less readable and more wordy than if the writer had decided to go with a more conventional sentence structure. I daresay that I expect to see less than two semicolons per chapter of five thousand words if the writer is well-versed in sentence flow.

In regards to using semicolons in lists, I believe that it looks aesthetically displeasing and should be avoided.

A semicolon is like the cocaine of writing. You wrote a sentence with a semicolon; damn, that felt good. Yet, soon you find your writing plagued with these abominations of unconventional punctuation; you can't stop joining independent clauses together. Soon, all sense of flow and readability is gone from your work and all you are left with are terrible blights of sentence construction; in your mind using the semicolon feels good, but your writing is taking the toll of the addiction.

I've seen a good number of semicolons while I was a reviewer, and almost always I felt that the sentence would flow easier if sentence was rephrased to exclude the semicolon—it lacks the emphatic purposes of say, an em-dash, which can also be used in a similar situation. The bottom line is that the semicolon is a rare sight in modern prose for a reason: it's generally a bad construct to use in most situations.
>> No. 82298
Oh ellipses...
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