Friday, December 9, 2011

Grammatically Yours – Common Misuses of Semicolons (5/5)

So far, we have discussed what a semicolon is, why it is important, and how we can use it. In this final post of the series, we are going to do a quick overview of a few of the most common misuses of semicolons.


1. Never use semicolons to introduce a series.

Incorrect:

The following people will moderate this discussion; Nina, Adam, Lindsey, and Trace.

Correct:

The following people will moderate this discussion: Nina, Adam, Lindsey, and Trace.

2. Never use semicolons to link independent clauses with dependent clauses. (Click here to view the post discussing the difference between independent and dependent clauses)

Incorrect:

As soon as I saw the look on his face; I knew it was bad.

Correct:

As soon as I saw the look on his face, I knew it was bad.

3. Do not overuse semicolons. If used too often, they become a distraction or, in some cases, a hindrance to the reader. Overuse leads to tedious, flat, or even choppy writing. Don’t be afraid of the semicolon, but do use it sparingly. If incorporated properly, it can strengthen your sentence structure and give you variety. Otherwise, it can and *will* be a detriment to your writing.

Remember: Semicolons are only used to link independent clauses or to separate items in a series.

This wraps up the final post in the five-part semicolon series. Thank you all so much for reading. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment box below. As a reminder, I do take requests for future "Grammatically Yours" posts. Email me or leave a comment below if you have a grammar concept that you would like me to address.

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Schedule:

Day Five: Common Misuses of Semicolons <you are here>

2 comments:

  1. Every English teacher/professor has always said if you can use a semicolon correctly, people already think you're smart. I can definitely see why! Thanks for the refresher on them!

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  2. You're welcome, Jenna! Thank *you* for stopping by! I'm so glad you enjoyed the series. :)

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