The Crazed Semi-Colon

Of late I’ve noticed a huge increase in the presence of semi-colons in IB assessment. Here’s a little simple advice.

First, semi-colons (;) are good.  Second, you should use them.  Third, you should learn how to use them correctly.

They are not good for every uncertain punctuation moment in your writing. You need to know when and and when not to use them, and there seem to be a lot of IB students in the last category, sprinkling them liberally wherever. You need a sense of direction.  The following two simple rules will help you find a path:

  • Use a semicolon when you need to separate two parts of the sentence and there’s no and or but: Youtube is a great asset; when I need a good laugh I go there.
  • Use a semicolon in a series where there’s already a comma in one or more elements:  The motifs in this novel are time, which the author refers to in almost every chapter; dreams, and their effect on the characters’ decisions; and finally, a variety of books that Alfonso has read.

Otherwise, take another route to construct your sentences…please.

1 Comment
  • Kevin Donovan
    August 8, 2017

    Using conjunctive adverbs should be part of semicolon instruction, especially as they are used to make the progression of thought more explicit.

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