Thursday, April 16, 2009

Comma or Semi-Colon

I got into a discussion with a coworker yesterday about the semi-colon.

He had asked me to double check a letter he was writing to an elected official.

I said, "I don't think you should use a comma here. Use a semi-colon or else make it two sentences."

I couldn't give an eloquent reason for the use of the semi-colon other than I recalled "The Elements of Style" by Strunk and Wagnalls. He had no idea what I was talking about. Maybe being 17 years younger than me has something to do with it.

Anyways, turns out the guide by Strunk and White (hey I was pretty close) turned 50.

For all intensive purposes, this is worth a read:


Miguel the Grammar Nazi said...

YES, you are correct, sir!

The semicolon is most commonly used to separate two independent clauses (i.e. complete thoughts that could each stand alone as sentences). When two independent clauses are joined together by just a comma, it is called a "comma splice," which is a type of run-on sentence. To correct this, either add a conjunction (such as and, but, or) after the comma, or utilize the mighty semi-colon.


Justin said...

"For all intensive purposes"


Ed Cameron said...

Very funny, Miguel. Good thing I went to high school and college with you or I'd think that you just googled 'semicolon' instead of just knowing it off the top of your head. After years of your hectoring, I must say I am sickened yet impressed by your obsessiveness with the English language.

And nice channeling of Ed McMahon via the "YES, you are correct, sir!"

Anonymous said...

"for all intents and purposes" :)