"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 . . .
THE STRAIGHT DOPE ON SEMICOLONS
- 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.