By Harriet Diamond
creator of harrietdiamond.net
Do you ever use semicolons? Many writers avoid them because they are misunderstood. The semicolon is a stronger pause than a comma, yet not as strong as a period. Take a risk and add a few to your writing.
The semicolon connects two complete, related thoughts:
More and more people are careful about spending; many items that were once considered necessities are now thought of as luxuries.
The trees are so colorful in the fall; every scene is worthy of a photograph.
The semicolon creates order in a sentence replete with commas:
The company president, John Howard; the vice president, Ofra Daniels; and the management team left for a retreat.
My favorite writers use colorful images, analogies, and strong language; and they make each page come alive.
Even stronger: My favorite writers use colorful images, analogies, and strong language; they make each page come alive
Some words that connect two complete thoughts are preceded by a semicolon and followed by a comma. These usually demonstrate cause and effect and include therefore, consequently, nevertheless, however, and inasmuch as.
I never trusted him in business; however, I always found his ideas interesting.
The meeting has been rescheduled; therefore, everyone can leave early.
These same words, when used in the middle of a thought, are set off by commas:
I, however, never trusted him in business.
The meeting, therefore, has been rescheduled.
Look at something that you’ve recently written. Can you add variety by replacing a period and/or a comma + and or but with a semicolon?