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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Criminal Sentence 76: Colon or Semicolon?

From something I edited yesterday:

"A mailing can take many forms; letter, postcard, brochure."

I often see a semicolon instead of a colon. A colon introduces something, whereas a semicolon separates elements to a greater degree than a comma. Here are some examples:

Colon: "A mailing can take many forms: letter, postcard, brochure." (Introducing a list)
Comma: "I have an aunt, an uncle, and a grandma." (Separating a simple list)
Semicolon: "I have an aunt, Betty; an uncle, Saul; and a grandma, Martha." (Separating a more complex list that also contains commas)
Semicolon: "I have an aunt; on the other hand, you do not." (Separating two complete sentences that are linked to some degree)

1 comment:

Lynn said...

Bonnie, Just read your hysterical article about apostrophes in WD...Please, I implore you, let me become a charter member of the Apostrophe Minder's Society...I was indoctrinated in the abuse of the apostrophe while teaching college freshmen English. As a result, I promise to be nothing but 100% loyal, watchful and devoted to your mission!
(Would you care to share links to our blogs? If you wish, just leave a comment for me). Your humor is appreciated as much as your message. Lynn