Punctuating our remarks: to semi-colon, or not to semi-colon

Are you a stickler for grammar and punctuation? Do semi-colons make you smile, or scowl? How about exclamation points? Too many of them make me crazy!!!

On Tuesday night, our Canadian Authors Association group talked about critiquing. A few weeks before the meeting, the moderator of the group gave two of us a story to read, so we could prepare a constructive critique presentation for the meeting.

The author of the piece used semi-colons to structure parts of the story; some paragraphs consisted of several sentences (“independent clauses” snooty writers would call them) joined by semi-colons.

I like semi-colons; they solve many punctuation dilemmas beautifully. In this case I thought full-stop sentences would serve the story better. My opinion was not unanimous; some people love their semi-colons.

Our discussion on Tuesday brought to mind the post by Tom Gething, “Interview with a Semi-Colon”.

Punctuation marks elicit surprisingly strong reactions from people.

As with most things, I fall somewhere in the middle. One of my Facebook friends posts with no punctuation (and often no capitals) at all. Many times, it has taken me several tries to figure out what he’s talking about. We really do need punctuation to communicate clearly. But overall, I don’t stress about punctuation. Let a writer be a little creative, if that’s what feels right for him or her.

Well, okay, except for all those exclamation points. Please, people, if you must use one (and you’d be surprised at how often you don’t need to), just one will do.

Maybe you can play with the new Interrobang. That should keep you busy for a while.


Photo from Wikipedia

2 thoughts on “Punctuating our remarks: to semi-colon, or not to semi-colon

  1. Chris

    I’m sure we’ve all read “Eats, shoots and leaves”, by Lynne Truss. But if you want to borrow it, you’ll notice Ottawa library on-line doesn’t use any punctuation marks. Kinda defeats the object.


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