Does anyone wink in real life anymore? When teamed with a closing bracket, a semicolon makes for great text flirting (or general creepiness, depending on age and gender). But, believe it or not, this is not the semicolon’s native function.
Semicolons connect two separate clauses in place of a conjunction or a full stop to join two sentences carrying the same theme.
There was a lady singing on the bus this morning. She was a really terrible singer.
This statement is separated by a full stop and if it was said out loud, the full stop would be emphasised with a short pause. However, if in place of the full stop, a semicolon is used, the connection between the two clauses is strengthened.
There was a lady singing on the bus this morning; she was a really terrible singer.
When read aloud, with a semicolon, you eliminate the pause without using a conjunction like, ‘and’, ‘but’, ‘nor’ or ‘yet’. You’re still being just as critical, but your grammar is spot on.
Semicolons shouldn’t be used if there’s already a conjunction connecting two ideas together.
There was a lot of brownie and cake at the office today, but I decided it was okay to indulge.
The comma is already doing the job of connecting the two clauses here, therefore, a semicolon serves no purpose. However, by dropping the ‘but’ and replacing it with a semicolon, the sentence becomes a little punchier.
There was a lot of brownie and cake at the office today; I decided it was okay to indulge.
Once again, you’ve still probably overdone it on the sugar for the day, but at least you’ve clocked semicolons.
Get it? ; )
For more semicolon hilarity, check out the Oatmeal’s rant.