September 1st, 2009
Writerly Wednesday on Grammar – Semicolons

Writerly Wednesday

Semicolons seem to cause a lot of confusion among writers, to the point that I’ve heard some writers say they are stupid to use or should be banned. But semicolons serve a purpose in writing, even in fiction, and should be used when needed but not overused.

The most common use of a semicolon in fiction is to replace a period and connect two independent clauses without one of the coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet).

The snow came down in huge drifts; we still managed to get to the party.

You can also use a semicolon to connect two independent clauses with one of the conjunctive adverbs (however, moreover, therefore, consequently, otherwise, etc.)

I wanted to stay home and warm; nevertheless, I went to my family’s formal dinner.

Semicolons are also used when you have a series and the units of the series contain commas. Then a semicolon is used to separate the units.

My itinerary includes Paris, France; London, England; and Dublin, Ireland.

One comment to “Writerly Wednesday on Grammar – Semicolons”

  1. Hi Maura,

    Just popped by to thank you for commenting on my blog. Glad I did, since yours is very interesting — love the Writerly Wednesday feature.