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Semicolons

;-)

Which of the following sentences display correct semicolon


usage?
1.) The Newspeak names of three Ministries in Oceania are
as follows; Minipax, Minitrue, Minilove, and Miniplenty.
2.) 1984 presents a chilling vision of a totalitarian society; it
remains one of the most popular dystopian novels.
3.) To get through the day safely, Winston must use
doublethink; evading thoughtcrimes and the
telescreens.

....
The correct answer was #2! Heres why:
Semicolons are used to connect two
independent clauses. That is, clauses that
could stand on their own as sentences.

1.) The Newspeak names of three Ministries in Oceania


are; Minipax, Minitrue, Minilove, and Miniplenty.
2.) 1984 presents a chilling vision of a totalitarian society; it
remains one of the most popular dystopian novels.
3.) To survive his day to day existence Winston must use
doublethink; evading thoughtcrimes and the
telescreens.
^ an independent clause needs a subject
and a verb. This clause does not have a subject, as the
subject of the verb is still Winston.

1.) The Newspeak names of three Ministries in


Oceania are; Minipax, Minitrue, Minilove,
and Miniplenty.
^ semicolons are not used to
introduce lists. However, they can be used to
separate large chunks within lists (as well see.)
2.) 1984 presents a chilling vision of a
totalitarian society; it remains one of the
most popular dystopian novels.
3.) To survive his day to day existence Winston
must use doublethink; evading
thoughtcrimes and the telescreens.

1.) The Newspeak names of three Ministries in


Oceania are; Minipax, Minitrue, Minilove,
and Miniplenty.
2.) 1984 presents a chilling vision of a
totalitarian society; it remains one of the
most popular dystopian novels.
^this clause could stand alone as a
complete sentence.
3.) To survive his day to day existence Winston
must use doublethink; evading
thoughtcrimes and the telescreens.

Most style guides tell you


not to use semicolons with
conjunctions. This is a
good rule of thumb.
Winston worked in the Ministry of Truth; and his job was to
destroy documents.

NO

Purpose of a semicolon
The purpose of a semicolon is to combine two
distinct ideas without adding a full pause, or
period. (Which is called a fullstop in Ireland
and possibly other places.) This can both aid
the flow of your writing and, more importantly,
the clarity, as you will be able to link ideas
together that you wish to combine.

Great moments in semicolon history


At the bottom of her heart, however, she was waiting for something to
happen. Like shipwrecked sailors, she turned despairing eyes upon the
solitude of her life, seeking afar off some white sail in the mists of the
horizon. She did not know what this chance would be, what wind would
bring it her, towards what shore it would drive her, if it would be a
shallop or a three-decker, laden with anguish or full of bliss to the
portholes. But each morning, as she awoke, she hoped it would come
that day; she listened to every sound, sprang up with a start, wondered
that it did not come; then at sunset, always more saddened, she longed
for the morrow.
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

More semicolons
God made food; the devil the cooks.
James Joyce, Ulysses
Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven
and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and
anger.
James Joyce, Dubliners
^Joyce often uses semicolons with conjunctions, which I said not
to do. It works because 1.) these are two independent clauses
and 2.) the added pause helps the rhythm of the sentence. In
literature or creative writing the rules are more flexible.

What other uses do semicolons


have?
Super comma. When it would be unclear if
you just used commas to separate the parts of
a list.
During my vacation I visited Seattle,
Washington; Tokyo, Japan; London, England;
and the moon.

Practice
Write a sentence using a semi-colon. (Hint:
write two independent sentences that could be
linked with a short pause.)

So what is a colon?
The colon is a punctuation mark that, when put after a statement, signals to the reader
that there is more information to follow. It relates in some way to the original statement
and is used to emphasize a point, expand upon or explain an idea, or to introduce a
quote or a list. The main thing to remember with a colon is that it must always come at
end of an independent clause (also known as a complete sentence). In other words, if
you substitute the colon with a period, the original sentence should still make sense.
The following are examples of using a colon correctly in a sentence:

Correct: There are three things on my grocery list: eggs, milk and bread.

Correct: It was Albert Einstein who said it best: "A person who never made a
mistake never tried anything new."

Correct: She was only worried about one thing: how to write an article on colons.

It's important to remember that a colon


should never come directly after a
preposition or a verb, so the following
would be wrong:
Incorrect: The three things on my
grocery list are: eggs, milk and bread.

Unlike with a semicolon, only the


clause BEFORE the colon needs to
be an independent clause.
The colon also has a greater variety of
uses than the semicolon.

A colon may also be used for the following situations:

A salutation in a formal/business letter.

Correct: Dear Mr. Jones:

Correct: To Whom it May Concern:

To clarify or add to a title, such as a book or movie

Correct: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience,


and Redemption

Correct: Star Wars: The Clone Wars

To separate numbers, like hours, minutes and seconds when


writing the time or to show ratios

Correct: 4:30 PM

Correct: 1:3

In lieu of quotes when showing dialogue, like in a play.

Correct: John: I don't understand what a colon is.

Correct: Jane: Why not?

Practice
Find a quotation that appeals to you from 1984. Write a
short paragraph that includes the quotation and follows
the guidelines we have been following for introducing
and explaining quotations. However, use a colon to
introduce the quotation.

Example: Winstons diary entry sums up his


anxiety about his situation: Thoughtcrime does
not entail death: thoughtcrime is death.(11)

For Monday
Read Chapter 6 in 1984. Make sure to take
notes according to the format we discussed!!!