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Semicolon; or no semicolon?

03.11.2011
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It’s difficult to keep track of all the great posts and writing advice for NaNoWriMo – it seems everyone’s taking part! When November ends, we’ll all be reviewing syntax, punctuation, grammar and spelling, among other things. So much to do, so little time! Here’s a few tips for the early birds on the proper use of semicolons.

Linking simple sentences to form compound or complex sentences:

  • We drove all day; we didn’t get anywhere.
  • There was a strange aura in the room, one I was never able to place; and the dog always passed the doorway with his tail curled between his legs.

Providing a pause before certain connectives or adverbs:

  • He wanted to go to the mountains; however, he had to work the following day.
  • It wasn’t raining; moreover, it was a lovely temperature.

Separating multiple word groups:

  • Those present at the wake included Harry and his sons, the Two Terribles; Ursula Harrington, the ancient resident from the fourth floor; Mr Collins, who had taken Roy to church every Sunday in his precious1974 Renault; and Shirley McFarlane, Roy’s hairdresser.

Inducing a mild shock or make a joke:

  • I loved their house; pity about the location.

Restoring order to sentences suffering from comma riot:

  • Her main aims in life, according to William, were to achieve financial independence; to be dangerously attractive, not only to men but in particular to wealthy bachelors; to drink exquisite liquor without having to budget; to retain her marbles beyond her eightieth birthday; and, last but not least, to not only read, but fully understand, the complete works of Jane Austen.

Have fun writing!

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