Interview with a semicolon

Gething:  Thank you for agreeing to this interview.

Semicolon:  The pleasure’s all mine; thank you for having me.

Gething:  My interest is in the controversy you have stirred in the literary world.

Semicolon:  I’ve done no such thing; those who don’t use me seem to be causing all the fuss.

Gething:  That’s my point. Many modern writers, in particular Cormac McCarthy in his interview with Oprah, have called for your extinction. What did you do to create such a virulent reaction?

Semicolon:  Ask Mr. McCarthy; to my knowledge I did nothing.

Gething:  But you must have done something. He’s not calling for the elimination of the period or the question mark, or even the colon in certain instances.

Semicolon:  No, he seems to have targeted me in particular…and the exclamation mark; I don’t know what we did to deserve such enmity. My purpose seems quite clear—to connect two or more independent clauses more closely than ones separated by a period. I believe there’s still a place for that in the world.

Gething:  You do have some supporters, only—let’s be honest—not too many users today.

Semicolon:  Not true! A very lucid writer recently defended me in the New York Times.

Gething:  But he also quoted Vonnegut who said that semicolons are “transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing.”

Semicolon:  That’s a gross exaggeration. Henry James adored me; incidentally, many consider him the paradigm of subtlety; he was certainly more subtle than that Vonnegut fellow.

Gething:  Yes, but there is a modern sentiment that long sentences connected by semicolons obscure rather than make thoughts clearer. I sometimes feel that way about Henry James. Modern writers—journalists, novelists, poets—they tend to shun you.

Semicolon:  Well, what do you expect from poets?

Gething:  What do you mean?

Semicolon:  They are barbarians; they hardly use any punctuation at all.

Gething:  Doesn’t that suggest that meaning can be received without punctuation? Its absence might even create interesting double meanings.

Semicolon:  You mean vagueness and ambiguity. Perhaps that’s modern, too.

Gething:  McCarthy says, if you write clearly you don’t need more than a few punctuation marks.

Semicolon:  Then why use any at all? Why not write so clearly that periods and commas can be avoided as well? Isn’t punctuation simply a convention to help the reader comprehend the writer’s meaning? What if you presented these words without punctuation?

Gething:  I don’t know. Let’s see:

Then why use any at all Why not write so clearly that periods and commas can be avoided as well Isnt punctuation simply a convention to help the reader comprehend the writers meaning What if you presented these words without punctuation

A few awkward spots but I might get used to it with practice.

Semicolon:  I suppose you’ll be calling for the elimination of capital letters next.

Gething:  You sound bitter.

Semicolon:  I am bitter. I feel angry; I feel hurt; I feel betrayed. In speech we use pauses and intonation to convey meaning. Why can’t we rely on perfectly acceptable conventions of punctuation, including the semicolon, for the printed word?

Gething:  You make a good case, but it seems convention is dictated by usage not by argument. I fear for your longevity.

Semicolon:  Hmm!

Gething:  You know, my sister quit dating a guy who used semicolons; she said he never knew when to stop.

Semicolon:  Ha-ha.

Gething:  Just trying to make you feel better.

Semicolon:  Then start by using me more; only please, don’t abuse me!



Filed under Commentary

297 responses to “Interview with a semicolon

  1. Brilliant interview, Tom! There’s nothing more beautiful in my eyes than a well placed semicolon. Not every great writer can pull it off, but when they do, it ends up being a sentence I read aloud.

  2. Thanks, Letizia. Some interviewees make the process easy; some are just waiting for the opportunity to tell all. Semicolon was one of those.

  3. I; do; love; this; interview.

  4. Holy smokes, this is incredible! There will forever be a special place in my heart for the sweet, little semicolon. : )

  5. No, he seems to have targeted me in particular…and the exclamation mark; I don’t know what we did to deserve such enmity. My purpose seems quite clear—to connect two or more independent clauses more closely than ones separated by a period. I believe there’s still a place for that in the world.

    I love it. I like the semicolon.

  6. howimetyoursister

    Holy smokes, this is brilliant! And semi-colon uses semi-colon symbol in almost all his sentences. I’ve read “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy, awesome writer. Long live semi-colon!

  7. That was very creative! I would use the ; if I knew how to properly use it!

  8. Hi Britt,
    Cute story but I think for business purposes you shouldn’t use the sweet, little semicolon. Would you agree for business purposes you should stay away from it?

  9. Michele Mizejewski

    My junior high English teacher told us we were NOT to use a semicolon until we were writing for the New York Times. I was scarred by this and still don’t use them to this day.

  10. Bring on the irony mark. I woulld like to use that daily.

  11. I never met a semicolon I didn’t like.

  12. Wonderful post, thanks for sharing and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!!

  13. Cherrie Zell

    I’m trying to improve my writing skills. Thank you for delivering such a simple lesson in a delightfully rememberable format. I will endeavour to include one semi colon in future posts. The fun part will be selecting the best sentence in the ideal position in order to fully display his (her?) unique talents.

  14. Absolutely brilliant, witty, fiercely creative. Definitely following your blog- seems like it will be one of the happy moments of my day. SO Freshly Pressed Worthy

  15. A good interview here, Tom.

    You sound a bit like me. I have pet hates with how our language is abused in minor ways.

    I had a mini rant about one of them last week on my blog.

    Here be the link…………..



    • Thanks, Mick. I’ll take a look. Punctuation is always a bone of contention. Who would have thought that the little old semicolon would receive such positive support from so many readers!

  16. Semi-colons really do improve the reading experience; I can scarcely credit the idea that people don’t want to use them. I am glad you wrote this post; I’m not from New York, and never saw that Times article about the semi-colon. Thanks!

  17. javaj240

    I love the semi-colon.

    I love when writers use them well; John Irving and Richard Ford come to mind.

    • I hadn’t noticed them in their writing, which means they must have used them well. I’ll have to take a second look. Thanks!

      • Isn’t that often the case? A well used punctuation goes unnoticed while a lack of or incorrect use of punctuation stands out like a sore thumb? At least for me anyway. Its like a typo of sorts; it makes me stumble and get stuck on the sentence when its wrong. Thanks for this funny yet educational post.

  18. Hahaha! I love this so much! Witty and insightful; just what the semicolon needs to reclaim its place in the world. The semicolon lives on!

  19. Very good writing. Congratulations on your FP status – oh, and semi has his followers too. Does he have a blog yet? 🙂

  20. Brilliant! That made me think though…I should certainly use mr semicolon more; I love using unrelated sentences. He does forget that he is probably used a lot by teens 😉

  21. bublibeauty

    Funny Interview ; Loved it . 🙂 🙂

  22. Marvellous! An interview that is even-handed, witty and instructive. Loved it!

  23. Wonderful post! Succinct and entertaining; most deserving of an FP.

  24. This is a brilliant post! I never would have thought about anything like this. It’s a unique idea and I applaud your effective and entertaining style!

  25. Very good! I’m a fan of the semicolon myself, but I know a lot of people who would rather use periods or commas. Loved this, though! Very cute 🙂

  26. Pingback: Interview with a semicolon « Continued

  27. I hope to learn things from this blog.

  28. This was totally refreshing, and I’m totally against a ban on Mister.Semicolon!
    Congrats on Freshly Pressed 🙂

    Check mine out too?

  29. Wonderful post, I really enjoyed reading your interview. Congratulations on becoming freshly pressed :).

  30. Pingback: Interview with a semicolon « pervyprocrastinator

  31. I loved this post; no, honestly, I did. I love semi-colons, and your interview was a witty pleasure to read. I think we might already have an irony-mark, or something close – it looks like this ;p

  32. I hardly see the semicolon. I also admit that I rarely use it.

  33. Congrats on FP. I am sure the semi colon will not go extinct. Mostly because no one wants to redesign keyboards in order to do so. Emoticons may breathe new life into a poorly understood punctuation mark.

    And just for the record, you will have to pry my exclamation point from my cold, dead laptop. Actually, my kid did that once. It made me mad. But it’s difficult to convey that emotion when I am pointless.

  34. I really enjoyed this post. Well deserved spot on FP. Congrats …

  35. I love the semicolon. Admittedly I’m not always sure when to use it but sometimes a sentence will call out with “Hey, use that semicolon thingy over there. He’d fit in here quite nicely!” And it seems to work but there’s always a bit of doubt.
    I once had a writing teacher say to never use them in a manuscript you intend to publish because an agent finding an unknown wanna-be author (mis)using a semicolon will chuck whole thing in the bin. Dangerous things to play with, apparently.

  36. Very nice! You may need to interview the comma soon. 🙂

  37. Your post is creative; it is also fun to read; it is educational too. It makes me feel a little more comfortable using the semi-colon. I hope that I used it properly!

  38. Great post. I see no need to get rid of the semicolon, though many people don’t seem to know how to use it. I hate to see it used in place of a colon. I also can’t stand to see exclamation points at the end of every sentence!! 😉 Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

  39. Well deserved FP!
    What’s with the news abt elimination of the semicolon anyway? Doesn’t it have the same treatment as the comma and period? Look at the computer keyboard; you just need to press one key instead of 2 (unlike the colon).
    Thanks for the fun lesson on using it too.
    And it makes the cutest emoticon! 😉

  40. love this post alot ! I’ve just upload some free ebooks about this content in my site, if you want to read

  41. Brilliant and funny! I’ve always felt the semicolon is underrated; this proves he’s still useful. Thank you for letting his voice be heard.

  42. I read the excerpt by Cormac McCarthy and I’m completely NOT on board with the sparse use of punctuation. My first thought was that it impacts the pacing and narrator’s voice as to nearly be indistinguishable from the run-on emails that I sometimes receive. After seeing his interview, however, I realized that it IS his narrator’s voice; I just don’t like it.

  43. yourlesbianfriend

    This is excellent! Attention for the semi-colon is well deserved; too many people these days don’t properly appreciate it. 🙂

  44. I’m a big fan of the semicolon. They can be difficult to place, but when used correctly they are much better than using commas, periods or worse, nothing at all.

  45. Pingback: Interview with a semicolon | legalmindandme

  46. I think the semi-colon is royalty or a member of the super rich—that 1% we keep hearing about from Obama and Romney but seldom see except from snapshots on the visual news.

    There is a use for the semi-colon, but it should be used as rarely as the dash and the ellipses.

    For example: a period is a stop sign; a semi colon says yield—maybe—but ….

    What if James is angry, and he wants to scream? Maybe James is angry; he wants to scream works better because the reader isn’t hit by that stop sign or slowed by the speed bump of a comma followed by an and.

    One place I usually avoid the use of the semi-colon is in dialogue. Maybe because I cannot see someone talking with semi-colons coming out of her or her mouth.

    • That’s an interesting way of looking at it. If used properly, 1% of punctuation sounds about right for the semicolon. And I agree with you 100% about its use in dialogue.

  47. aaowchar2

    Cormac McCarthy is good, but not that good. But you’re awesome, Semicolon.

  48. Thank you thank you thank you! I do wish I’d had this interview to distribute to my semi-colon-resistant students when I was an English teacher; I am confident it would have converted them….

  49. E

    This interview is awesome! I love the semicolon; it would be sad to see it go!

  50. I love semicolons! I use them but I think that we semicolon users may be part of a dying breed. I recently read a piece that had so many misplaced semicolons in it, I wanted to scream( actually, I did scream). It is not the semi colons fault that people don’t know how to use it. Go semicolon! Oh, by the way, I am a poet and use semicolons in my poetry. Go semicolon!
    Great, artistic piece, you deserve to be FP. 🙂

  51. I love the semicolon; it can be confusing to some but is essential to others. Virginia Woolf loved it; that’s enough for me. I also wander if this comments thread has the highest proportion of semicolons in wordpress…

  52. girlandthoughts

    What a lovely little interview. I hope your honesty didn’t effect your relationship. That would be awful.

  53. My favorite writer is Doris Lessing, a Nobel Literature recipient; she is the Queen of Colons and Semi-Colons. I picked the habit up from her; I could not write without the semi-colon.

    BrightBlueSaturday: In response to your musing: yes, I am sure these comments have more semi-colons than any other.

    But now I’m wondering about the dash: does the semi-colon include it or not?

  54. Just watched the McCarthy interview. He’s as insufferably full of himself in person as he is in his writing. Just as he doesn’t use much punctuation, he doesn’t use tone variance or vocal inflection when he speaks. Makes things pretty lifeless. Punctuation is PART of writing, not some separate entity from outer space, as he refers to it.

    • Maybe McCarthy feels that way because he doesn’t hear the use of punctuation in his speech? I know that’ s how I learned all about commas and periods, and that’s how Richard Nelso Bolles, the author of What Color Is My Parachute, writes in his books.

    • Yes, it is a part of writing. I think even McCarthy acknowledges that. But he’s definitely a minimalist. I think there’s a place for that, too.

  55. Rajini Kumar

    Reblogged this on Rajnie's Blog and commented:
    Nice One! 🙂

  56. Hesaraghatta

    Just awesome imagination. How would I use the wink smiley if the semicolon didn’t exist 😉

  57. It’s quite a funny way to say what you think. I liked the post, I am AGAINST the end of punctuation!

  58. Snoring Dog Studio

    I’m an avid fan of the semicolon and will never give it up. I fear its demise as well considering how few people I’ve met that seem to know how to use it. Frankly, Proust could have benefitted from a few of them along with shorter sentences and more periods. He could also have benefitted from an editor, too.

  59. I enjoyed your post, it was very entertaining. It also reminded me of this which was also informative, funny and entertaining at the same time. I came across it on Tumblr a few months ago:

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  60. To be honest, I don’t like semi – colons. Mainly because they are a tough trick to pull off for a writer. Very good post! I loved the idea of it being portrayed as an interview. 🙂

  61. Love this piece. I’d like to think of semicolons as a rolling stop at a stop sign; they somehow ease in the transition from one clause to another, related one. Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  62. Pingback: Interview with a semicolon | Xperiences and Predictions

  63. I really like your blog and would love you to feature on mine, All you have to do is write five suggestions along with a link back to your site. Please check out the blog and see the sort of things people have written about. Please consider following me on facebook.

  64. This makes me sad for all the embarrassingly public times I’ve misused and abused you, Semicolon. I need to go back to Grade 11 English.

  65. I love the semi-colon; it’s a very useful punctuation mark and I let it participate in my writing quite frequently. Long live the semi-colon! Thanks for an entertaining post. 🙂

  66. Hahaha. This makes me feel sorry for semi-colons; I love them personally, but whenever one uses them on Word it comes up with “semi-colon use, consider revising”. Argh.

  67. Very interesting post. Congrats on FP. I reflected what I did with semi colon…I think there are certain things I did at work that need to use semi colon. It will survive, but not too useful nowadays. The next one should be upper case….will it be extinct in the tech world? I won’t use it if my iPad did not do that for me! …

  68. Absolutely brilliant post. And McCarthy’s certainly one to talk; he barely uses any punctuation let alone a semi-colon. The clarity of his writing (in my opinion) suffers as a result.

  69. Witty, charming and disputatious.
    P.S. I am a fan of the semi-colon. I also am a fan of Jane Austen, who uses semi-colons liberally, and her work has stood the test of time.

  70. Fascinating and hilarious. It takes a truly skilled interviewer to get an interviewee to open up as you did. Congrats and kudos to you. I hear semicolon turned down repeated requests for interviews with Barbra Walters. Cheers.

  71. I love this posting. For me the semicolon creates meaning that could not exist without it. It is kind of like the color grey. If we make everything black and white, we lose something. I like McCarthy’s writing, but it seems that he wants to take grey out of the world.

  72. Great post! I am another fan of the semi-colon. The loss of such a historical (and witty!) figure would be most disheartening 🙂

  73. This was absolutely fantastic! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  74. Thanks for the great interview! And semicolon, don’t be too discouraged. I, for one, wouldn’t know what to do without you. I use you at least once in most of my writing. Sometimes, when I’m afraid my readers will find me too snobby, I replace you with a dash, but it always feels like betrayal. Good luck to you, and may you be around for a very long time!

  75. I use semi colons all the time; in fact quite often I just can’t live without it.

  76. What a beautiful and creative article! I have a special relationship to semicolons; I can’t help it, semicolons are my favorite punctuation marks ever since. Always when I stumble upon semicolons in literature my heart makes a jump of joy. Fortunately, I am also writing code as a computer programmer, and at least here semicolons are far away from their extinction 😉

  77. Very clever interview. I myself use the semicolon occasionally.

  78. I liked this! Also, J.K. Rowling uses semicolons often in the Harry Potter series; so semicolon, if you’re feeling down; read some of those. 😀

  79. This is witty. Semicolons deserve the spotlight!

  80. So incredibly well done 🙂

  81. Never knew why I never used this poor guy. Sorta always wondered in the back of my mind. Tried to find times when I’d need it. Maybe three times.
    made me wonder about my writing.
    Today, I stop wondering.
    All from overhearing a little squiggly dot conversation, I’m freed.

  82. vasquez

    Ah yes, my dear friend the semicolon. Great piece 🙂

  83. Reblogged this on Compendium of Crazy and commented:
    I liked this. I enjoy a semicolon.

  84. I use semicolon a lot, when terminating a statement in C language. 😀

  85. I love semicolons! It’s a thing of mine. I even put it in my “About me” sections. Surprising and interesting post!

  86. Reblogged this on fcmalby and commented:
    Tom Gething interviews the much berated semicolon. This is the blog post that many of us have been waiting for! Thank you Tom. Are you someone who replaces semicolons with commas, stops, dashes? Or are you willing to fight for its survival? What ever you view, I think you’ll gain some valuable insights. Happy reading…

  87. Most programmers need semicolon.

  88. This is possibly the best blog post I’ve ever read. Very creative. It’s been reblogged. Thanks, Tom!

  89. looseleafbri

    For your “next” interview can you “please” interview quotation symbols and discuss their “abusive” past?

  90. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    I like this VERY much. I am all for semis. I had one commenter, just once, tell me that the use of a semi is ‘old fashioned’. I absolutely don’t care. Semis have a fine place in my narrative – my blog being a first draft of a novel re my son’s early life; what we survived. Have always used them, and always will. They are worth the pause.

  91. What a clever idea for a post; I loved it and I love you too semi-colon. So long as I am around I will continue to make full use of you as I always think you make writing so classy; at least when used properly and sparingly.

  92. There’s a great need for semi colons as a full stop doesn’t seem right at times. Many writers use dashes where they should use semi colons.

  93. This is brilliant! Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed too!

  94. I love this, I use semi colons and am frowned up on for it in essays. YAY to the semi colon! Love the humour in this 🙂

  95. Great post! I thought that ‘Semicolon’ was an imaginary friend. I have never told anyone I spend quite a lot of time at home playing with him; however, when it came to introducing ‘Semicolon’ to my friends, he always seemed to let the others take over. Thanks for reconfirming his existence.

  96. The semicolon is a delight and will always have a defender in me!
    I thought McCarthy’s minimalist style suited ‘the Road’ perfectly, but less so when I read some of his other work
    Great post.

  97. I never thought such argument can ever exist. O, poor poets! But I have to say this really was a fun interview. 😉

  98. I don’t know if grammar checkers on word processors still do this, but years ago they would estimate the grade level at which one wrote once the grammar check was complete. The more semi-colons one used, the higher the grade level. Artificial though it may be, that should make the poor semi-colon feel a bit better.

  99. Pingback: Interview with a semicolon | Translation & Interpreting |

  100. fjpoblam

    Superb article. I will not let the semicolon die; I have long been a fanatic friend. This article reminds me of one I saw on proper use of minuses, hyphens, n-dashes, and m-dashes. As a website designer, I am painfully aware of the web-wide problems with pinctuation—and, indeed, the coincident problem problems with browsers. For not all browsers render an m-dash properly! But rest assured, on the web, our semicolon friend is entirely safe! Use it “with impunity”!

  101. Semicolon, I love you. And I use you so often, I even forget using periods for lines on end.
    Oh what do the hipster-kids say?
    ‘Haters can hate.’
    Absolutely loved your post! 😀

  102. Marcus W

    When so much of our communication is based on tone and body language, we need all the punctuation we can get!

  103. Hilarious. I’ll be using this in class!

  104. you gotta love the semi-colon! my friends in school don’t see the point in them but they can make a difference between a good sentence and a great sentence

    funny stories of my life on my blog-

  105. My comment should read, I enjoyed the interview.

  106. Love your creative approach to the semi-colon; sometimes described as a comma with a period! I’m a fan and will continue to use this little punctuation mark in my writings!

  107. Great interview 🙂 Come to think of it I’ve never used semi colon much except while programming in ‘C’ language (but that can’t be counted ;)). Anyway, nice post 🙂

  108. Pingback: Interview with a semicolon « Paul Murphy

  109. You are often misused, my friend! ha ha! Love this! I actually read one blogger who, although I love her writing style and content, doesn’t use any punctuation or capitalization! Drives me bonkers! So much so that I even told her that she should do those things for the ease of her readers. But she ignored me. I guess she thinks it makes her look edgy. Or maybe she’s just a rebel! lol Thanks for a great read! xo

  110. If they take my semicolons away, I’ll get even. I’ll use commas, M-dashes, and (gasp) eclipses inappropriately. I will deliberately structure sentences that yearn, beg, even scream for a semicolon, and then stick comma in them.

    Oh, and if you think that’s cruel to editors I can do even worse. The characters in my stories, whenever they write notes and letters to each other, will all use semicolons where commas belong. Why not? They’re not editors or writers. Why should they know any better?

  111. I’ve been waiting all weekend to read this. Right when I was going to click on your post, my internet connection went out. Thank you for making the wait worth it. I really connected with Mr. Semicolon. I’m a teacher, and it wasn’t the fact that I can’t even teach the use of it for fear of confusion. It was that I shared his emotions about neglect and abuse. Thanks for helping me laugh at it all.

  112. money prizes contests

    To extinguish the semi-colon is to eliminate one poetic device of prose.

  113. Pingback: Interview with a semicolon « HystericAcoustic

  114. Great post. Grammar really can be interesting sometimes!

  115. This is such fun. Can’t wait to share with my students!

  116. Wonderful post; informative and insightful. Did I use the semi-colon properly? I must admit that I avoid them.

  117. Margie

    I’m all for supporting the underdog; I’m going to increase my use of the semicolon. I’m a big fan of the exclamation mark too!

  118. Loved the interview; words colliding in the best way ever!

  119. Pingback: Interview with a semicolon | birdmanps

  120. Oooh! The Slo-Man is so happy to find others feel the way he does about punctuation. Very creative way to let off steam; it got the point across.

  121. Thank you for gething semi-colon’s side. 🙂

  122. Creative work. Your article expresses the spaces of the writing. I’ve never used it, but I will consider carefully from now.

  123. This interview encourgae me to use more semicolons; i will definitely use it in my next writing. It’s a real creative writing 🙂

    Good shout, Tom!

  124. Micah

    This is a brilliant interview! 🙂 I love it, and it gave me that much needed HAHA for the day. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  125. Cool post! Semicolons are definitely under-utilised in writing. Commas are over-used…nuff sed.

  126. This interview is awesome; I’ll use semi-colon more. Although I think one of the reasons why people don’t like to use semi-colon is they fear they won’t use it the right way.

    Don’t worry, semi-colon. We love you! 😉

  127. oyinkandeleawolo

    This is an interesting piece,Tom.Your choice of words,use of language and the interview all brought live and drama in this writing,*thumbz Up*

  128. So loved this! I sent it to my kids’ English teachers!!

  129. Pingback: Moved to tears… I’ve been “awarded” « Simple Tangles

  130. Love this interview. I love me a well placed semi colon

  131. I speak for my writing here. It simply couldn’t live without the semicolon.

  132. What a great interview. I’ll never regard the semicolon in the same light; maybe I’ll start using them again, after believing they had died a natural death.

  133. Excellent interview. Perhaps there will be a follow up interview with the CAPITOL LETTERS and their denigration in the world of the Internet.

  134. N.T. Rudolph

    The interview was fantastic; stupendous; wonderful.

  135. Tammy J Rizzo

    This was a wonderful interview! I loved it!

  136. Tammy J Rizzo

    Reblogged this on Tammy J Rizzo and commented:
    It took me a very, very long time to learn how to use the semicolon. This interview shows us how it should be used, without pounding us over the head with it.

  137. I need to try to use it now… gotta learn how to put it in the right place in the right sentence(s).

  138. Ankit Mathur

    Reblogged this on BE CURIOUS.

  139. Pingback: Ode to the Comma « postcards from sanantonio blog

  140. Dear Semicolon,
    For all the times I wronged you with an em-dash, my deepest apologies. I stand convicted.

    Dear Mr. Gething,
    In his book “On Writing,” Stephen King says, “…the road to hell is paved with adverbs.” I’d love to read an interview featuring the adverbs’ reaction to King’s cutting words. You seem the guy to do it.

  141. HA HA HA HA, one of the funniest things I have read all year! I hate the way modern grammar is bludgeoned to death by mobile phone chat and the like. Great post!

  142. Nice interview.. Love it! 😉

    I love semi colon. He’s my best emoticon! lol 😉

  143. zedjaw77

    Reblogged this on it's about writing and commented:
    Just plain fun. 😀

  144. Pingback: I love a good quote. « rogers writes

  145. I wonder why the semicolon has gone into such decline… I was never even taught how to use it properly at school; maybe it’s the school curriculum to blame?

  146. Thanks for liking my post about The Stars My Destination. I was afraid I hadn’t done it justice.

    Allen Starbuck

  147. Pingback: Interview with a semicolon « shwann

  148. I love this. I am an avid user of the semi-colon and would hate to see it go; it is essential to my sentences.

  149. I am confused now. I was taught to use a semi-colon to separate a principal and a subordinate clause and a colon to separate two principal clauses. As I gleaned comments here all examples of semi-colon use included a verb. Having said this I love the blog entry and I love the creative greedom of using the semi-colon to add the emphasis the author wants.

  150. Whoa! Talk about being late to the party! Congrats on the FP. As a probable over-user of the semicolon, it is nice to see that there is so much support for such a misunderstood yet critical mark. I’m looking forward to reading your other punctuation interviews (if any exist), as well as future posts. Nice style, great grammar, even greater content! Don’t forget that semicolons also act as commas, when a series of three or more dependent clauses is used (such as today: I graduated from grammar school; I spent three hours at a depressing dinner with in-laws; something else happened I’d rather not discuss; and, I commented on an amazing blog). Funny how the semicolon is more discrete than the comma, but sometimes relies on the (whole) colon!

  151. Just loving this interview of yours! Stumbled upon this post of yours while searching something on Google; and, it’s so good to be here:)

    We need more:)

  152. Pingback: Interview with a semicolon | English 30-1 This I believe . . . |

  153. I am very new to this topic called blogging and have found that keeping some topics basic can be lots of fun. Look forward to reading more of your work.

  154. Reblogged this on msamba and commented:
    Add your thoughts here… (optional)

  155. sbuffie

    Love this! I have recently rediscovered our little underused, under-appreciated, and misunderstood friend: the semicolon. Thanks for putting a smile on my face.

  156. Charlie

    It is my personal belief that all sentences in one paragraph should be separated by semicolons, and the period should end said paragraph.

  157. janeeb

    This is a great piece! The semicolon is my favorite punctuation mark; it simply cannot be replaced by the comma or period. I’m glad the semicolon feels as strongly about its existence as I do.

  158. Gina

    Love this! Reading it with my son who relies on typed communication courtesy of his disability. We are trying to teach him the importance of, and love for, all punctuation. However, it is the “snark” he will need to rely on to truly convey his quirky and sarcastic 9 yo personality. “All hail the Snark!” In the meantime, we promise to learn how to better use the delightful semi-colon.

  159. I just rediscovered my semicolon love;) no one can take it away from me now!

  160. Can you do an interview with the oxford comma? Poor thing, it’s even less used that the semicolon. Thank goodness ‘Vampire Weekend’ has immortalised it in a song. Oh, an we need to send the ‘moist’ to the word cemetery!

  161. Rima Hanna

    I love it, I love the approach, and I think that after sharing this with my students, they will definitely remember their semicolon! Can we have more interviews for other punctuation marks? Thank you.

  162. Reblogged this on Demented Musings and commented:
    Funny and witty. Well, at least now, I know when I will use the semicolon next time. Cheer up buddy! (Oh shit! I just realized I did not used you here. lol)

  163. Nice blog post Tom. Guess I will be frequenting this blog. I have been following language blogs for quite some time especially when I started to head the Content Management team in our company. This helps me in editing works of my writers.

    PS. Now I know when to use semicolon next time. 🙂

  164. Adrienne Rich: The redemptive power of the semicolon.

  165. johnroberthickman

    Reblogged this on dogs named tex —.

  166. Great posting; I like it. I’m not always sure if I use the semicolon in the right places, bu I do try. I use it at least 50 times a week.

  167. I think that English has become a more terse language, in part due to modern usage patterns that emerged as technologies for transmission developed and penetrated all layers of society.
    People are used to very short and perfunctory information transmission and while this has its advantages, both in terms of effort spent to produce as well as consume the information, personally, I very much like the semicolon, as well as the exclamation point and would not wish them to perish; nor would I wish for the stylistic constructs they allow to vanish.
    It may well be the case, that long sentences, inexpertly crafted, obscure meaning, but that does not mean we should abandon them.
    As for the exclamation point, while it is oft abused, not least by its multiplication by some, who do not realize that adding punctuation does not strenghten an argument, it serves a valuable purpose.

    There is one little matter in this interview, that grates on me, though I find it otherwise excellent: the argument is switched:

    […] there is a modern sentiment that long sentences connected by semicolons obscure rather than make thoughts clearer. […]
    […] Doesn’t that suggest that meaning can be received without punctuation? Its absence might even create interesting double meanings. […]

    Arguing against obscuring factors and then embracing them as potentially interesting seems rather inconsistent to me, but I am, of course, aware that these are two sides of the same coin; a little more exposition would have been appropriate, though.

    • Thoughtful comments, thanks. I think there is a wonderful place for well-crafted long sentences. They take more time and effort, I think, and so we tend to go for the short and direct. You are right about the interviewer’s inconsistency.

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