Contessa of the Semicolon

Never have I ever been called Contessa before.

Until today. 😊

Here’s how that came about:

I answered some ‘get to know you questions’ on a blog and, being my usual wordy self, I answered all the questions including this one:

Do you have a favorite punctuation mark? I never even thought about it, until today…

I may have held back my modesty a little when I boldly stated that few people know how to use a semicolon correctly (truth, by the way) and therefore choose to simply omit the semicolon all together.

πŸ’• Poor, neglected semicolon πŸ’•

Anyway, you may henceforth refer to me as Contessa of the Semicolonβ„’, a title coined by the emdash-using Master Kuchβ„’. 😎

Thank you.

(Taking a break from MeanMomβ„’ today.) πŸ˜‚

Click here to read the source post and go play the “get to know you” game if you so desire.

Now, let’s chat about this little-used or much-abused punctuation, shall we?

Cambridge English Dictionary defines the semicolon like this:

…used in writing between two parts of a sentence, usually when each of the two parts could form grammatical sentences on their own. A semicolon can also separate the things in a list.

To get a less dry, and more descriptive definition, I will refer you to the best book about grammar ever, written by Benjamin Dreyer. His book “Dreyer’s English” is neither stuffy nor boring, but rather whimsical and fun. I’ve written about him before; click here if you want to link to that post. (Bonus: that particular blog post has the worst title I’ve ever come up with.)

Mr. Dryer has, of course, dedicated a section to the semicolon, as one should when one writes a book about grammar. πŸ˜›

Here’s his introductory sentence in that section:

I love semicolons like I love pizza; fried pork dumplings; Venice, Italy; and the operas of Puccini.

See what he did there? He made a list and separated the items in the list with semicolons. πŸ˜‰

He gives other examples (and rules), but you should get his book and read it yourself if you’re interested in semicolons, or other English grammar commentary.*

Anyway, that was fun to write! I was inspired by the source post (linked above) as I was struggling to come up with new content that wasn’t about the usual lock-down/quarantine/family drama I typically moan about on these here pages. So thank you MK for that.

See you in the comments! πŸ™‚

*I get not a penny for mentioning this book to you, nor does Mr. Dreyer know of my existence, and neither does Random House, but I still think you should get this book, even if you borrow it from the library.

19 thoughts on “Contessa of the Semicolon

  1. I think I love you, fellow word nerd. An entire post about grammar is a delicious find!
    The semi-colon and I have a star-crossed relationship. So in love were we in grade school that an English teacher forbade me from using it – EVER! Imagine my release when you unknowingly gave me permission to embrace it once again. You made my day!πŸ€—

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Not surprisingly, I already own Dreyer’s book. And, I have been accused of being the Queen of Semicolons, by none other than my editor–who makes short work of stripping them out of my work. It’s not, he assures me, that I’m not using them correctly. But, he contends that North Americans are unfamiliar with them, and so (he thinks) they are off-putting in fiction. Alas, the poor semicolon. (I don’t know, Contessa sound so much more exotic than Queen.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, Queens and Contessas are likely to get along quite nicely then in the world of grammar. πŸ˜‰

      That’s actually not surprising to read, about the semicolon getting edited out. Well in our blogs we can do what we want, so go ahead and punctuate at will. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m a fan of the semi-colin however my critique group is not. Consequently I’m shy about the use. The participants, especial group leader, also feel strongly about explanation marks. . . just saying, Claudia

    Liked by 1 person

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