Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Semicolons


It’s Grammar-O Wednesday, dear readers. As you probably know, Ocieanna is recovering from a cardiac arrest in early January. Please continue to pray for her. She is doing better. While her health improves, Dawn and I are taking turns covering grammar.

Today let’s talk about semicolons. This is sometimes challenging for writers, so let’s dive in and then test ourselves.

First, when to use them. There are two main times to use semicolons.

1. For items in a series which also include commas.
2. To separate two independent and related clauses. (Note: use before adverbs between independent clauses)

Let me give you some examples.

Series examples:

Matthew 6:30, 33; 12:18; Mark 2:2, 19

She called her mother, whom she hadn’t spoken with in two whole days; her brother; and her best friend.

Two independent but related clauses example:

He couldn’t give up now; victory had to be right in front of him.

Notice in this example, the two clauses could be separate sentences with periods and still be correct. The key is they have to be independent or complete clauses (subject and verb) not just phrases (fragments).

Got it? Now, let’s test ourselves.

Where should we place semicolons in the following sentences:

Cora grabbed her sunglasses, the ones with the scratch, her beach bag, her purse, and her car keys.

Could you look up Matthew 6:30, 33, Psalm 42:11, and John 14:27?

Trey needed to get his head on straight. Maddie was counting on him.

As her father, he needed to at least act like he had his act together, indeed he’d better pray and ask for a fresh download of wisdom.

If I had to choose, I’d pick the black one, the red one, or the green one.

Answers. Now, here come those semicolons:

Cora grabbed her sunglasses, the ones with the scratch; her beach bag; her purse; and her car keys. (Note: you could also write tight here and avoid the semicolon all together: Cora grabbed her scratched sunglasses, her beach bag, her purse, and her keys.)

Could you look up Matthew 6:30, 33; Psalm 42:11; and John 14:27?

Trey needed to get his head on straight; Maddie was counting on him.

As her father, he needed to at least act like he had his act together; indeed he’d better pray and ask for a fresh download of wisdom.

If I had to choose, I’d pick the black one; the red one; and the green one.

Note: I used CMOS as my reference material for this post.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave comments. We'll moderate and post them!