Thursday, February 04, 2010

semicolons can be confusing; here is a lesson ;)

the oatmeal, famous for lengthy animated rants of the surreal variety such as how to use an apostrophe, has created a new lesson on a less commonly used punctuation mark: the semicolon.

the comic uses non-sequiturs to break down the uses of the semicolon, with the main reasons being:
  • conjoining two related sentences that could stand on their own (do not use a conjunction such as 'and' or 'but' with this use)
  • adding more pause than a comma but less than a period.
  • seperating items in a list when those items already have punction (e.g. i have lived in lakeville, mn; edina, mn; and minneapolis, mn.)
the comic neglects to mention some other uses for the symbol, such as ending a line of code in many computer programming languages or a line of a matrix in a mathematical matrix. also a winky face.

[image by theoatmeal]


  1. I'm certainly not a language pro (hence, your blog provides some very valuable input!), but shouldn't your first bullet point read:

    '...could stand on their own" instead of 'there'?

    (emoticons - the only use of the semi-colon I've ever mastered.)

  2. yikes! i have shamed myself. you are absolutely right. i fixed it and we never need to discuss it again ;-)