Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Ode to the semicolon
Oh the poor semicolon, it's not quite a colon but it is more than a comma, yet it is often misunderstood. I'll admit that I am not all that knowledgeable on semicolon usage but I've always known you use a semicolon to separate a list of things that started with a colon. I figured that was pretty much the extent of normal semicolon usage. Only those that used the semicolon beyond that rule were just crazy English freaks. Recently though, I've had my eyes open to the proper usage of the semicolon. I had my sister read over a blurb about my research experience and besides her usual comment about my improper comma usage I got a lesson in semicolon usage. At first I thought she was just being crazy because really, no one uses a semicolon, so was it really important that I didn't use any? Apparently it was. She then pointed me to a website that had examples of the proper use of semicolons. I was surprised to find that my favorite words to use in writing all required the use of a semicolon: in addition; however; otherwise; and therefore. Who knew!?! Since becoming enlightened on the proper use of the semicolon I've decided to use it whenever needed. I'm sure when my supervisor reads my thesis he will wonder what's up with all the semicolons, at which point I will direct him to the website. After all, scientists may write papers but that doesn't mean they actually understand proper writing style. I, however, will be trying to change science writing one semicolon at a time. Now just to grasp the usage of the comma. I've never properly understood the comma.By the way, I'm sure I've missed a comma or semicolon somewhere in this post. Be nice, I'm a scientist.