How to use a semicolon – The Oatmeal

two speech balloons, one with an a questionmar...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are those who cannot read: either because they were never taught or because they suffer from a form of dyslexia.

There are those who cannot spell: either because they suffer from a form of dyslexia, or are still very young, or because they’re self-centred idiots who think it’s up to others to make an effort to understand them. Also, they are either too inexperienced or stupid to see the little spellcheck icon in the toolbar, to be used before publication as God intended.

There are those whose relationship with punctuation seems to be limited to throwing a handful of it at a sentence to see what sticks. Extensive testing shows adhesion in the following (in decreasing order of stickiness): exclamation marks, question marks, full stops. The rest slide off text like water off a crocoduck’s back, except for apostrophes, which are negatively affected by ballistic punctuation and cling despairingly to all the wrong esses.

There are those who cannot write: either because nobody has explained to them how to construct a story or thesis, or how to deconstruct a text, or because they just can’t be arsed using their brains. This latter exercise includes critical rereading of your rantings, folks. Do it several times before you hit ‘Publish’ and at least once afterwards.

Lastly, there are those who can write, spell and use basic punctuation, but go into complete panic attack when faced with the query: should I use a semicolon? Tremble no more! Your friends and mine at The Oatmeal have the answer to our problem in one simple, easy-to-use guide. Click on this and all will be revealed to you.

How to use a semicolon

Click on the picture and all will be revealed

It’s funny, it’s informative, and you can even print it out and hang it up on a study or classroom wall.

For those who are still scared of punctuation, try thinking of it as a way of indicating how to breathe if the sentence is being spoken aloud. After all, that’s what Shakespeare did and you can’t claim to be a better writer than him, can you? Well, you can, but not if you don’t want to be mistaken for one of the Gallagher brothers

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