Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Straight Dope on Semicolons

"The Straight Dope" highlights common grammatical errors -- so you can stop looking dopey when you do these things incorrectly. :)

Please note: Unless otherwise specified, these are the proper grammar and formatting rules according to Chicago style---the style in which you should be writing, if you're writing fiction---and some nonfiction.  (So don't give me a laundry list of reasons why some other way is correct. It *might be*, in AP style or APA style or MLA formatting . . . but that's not what I'm talking about here.)
**I'm bringing over some of my series posts from my old blog, so this is a blast-from-the-past post for those of you who have been with me since Wordpress.**
I was doing some editing last night, and I saw a lot of semicolon abuse -- and I couldn't take it anymore!  I had to change my status updates (on Facebook and Twitter) to this:
This prompted quite a response from some of my snarkier Facebook friends. One even asked how to correctly use them.

So, without further ado . . .

  • Use them to divide a series of things that would require several commas in order to be grammatically correct and would, therefore, be confusing with all those commas.
Example: There are cool people in Cleveland, Ohio; Atlanta, Georgia; Harrisonburg, Virginia; and Orlando, Florida.
  • Use them to separate two complete sentences that have a relationship.
Example: You asked me how to use semicolons; now, I'm writing a super-nerdy blog post about it.
  • Use them to make a winky and/or flirty smiley face.
Example: ;)
The end.


  1. Great post! That's funny, I just switched from Blogger to WP.

  2. Thanks! And, hee -- we're just two ships in the blogosphere! We'll have to compare notes.

    Are you going to RWA this year, BTW?

  3. LOL! The last example is my absolute fave reason for them :) xo

  4. @Sara -- It is, by far, the best use. I agree!

    @Monica -- Thanks! :D

  5. I'll be looking for your feedback on blogger. I haven't personalized mine yet. I have been waffling about whether I should switch to WP. I signed up for the email. Look forward to your posts.

  6. @Stacey -- thanks for following!

    I'm liking it so far -- my big thing was Google Friend Connect.