Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Never give up; never surrender!

Happy National Punctuation Day, citizens!

In honor of this mighty occasion, we thought it would be appropriate to shine the super spotlight on a very deserving Super Symbols team member and tell you about her second superpower. This deserving Super Symbol is none other than the elegant and powerful Semicolon.

As most of you know, the Semicolon (;) has a first superpower.
As this super handy mini-poster states, the Semicolon has the power to join two or more independent clauses together. This means that if you have two or more complete sentences that are closely related, you can use a semicolon to properly join them together into one sentence.

For example, here are two complete sentences:

Never give up!
Never surrender!

These two sentences work fine all by themselves. But if we want to join them together to act as one sentence with a unified message, the best and easiest way to join them together is by using a semicolon, like this:

Never give up; never surrender!

Now, thanks to the power of the Semicolon, we have a single sentence with a unified message. And best of all, this sentence is correct.

For a full explanation of the Semicolon's first superpower (complete with super examples!), grab your trusty copy of Super Grammar and turn to the blue color-coded Super Symbols section of the book and review pages 136-138.

And now, citizens, before we move on to the Semicolon's second power, I'd like to remind you that there is a wrong way of connecting two complete sentences—and here it is—never try to join two complete sentences with just a single comma.

For example, if we try to join the same two complete sentences with just a single comma, like this, "Never give up, never surrender!" it would be incorrect.

Commas, all by themselves, simply to do not have the power to join together two complete sentences. So watch out for this common punctuation mistake. Because if you ever do try to join two complete sentences with just a single comma, it means that you've fallen victim to a very tricky member of the Sabotage Squad called the Comma Splice.

To learn more about the Comma Splice and her trickery, grab your faithful copy of Super Grammar and turn to the green color-coded Sabotage Squad section of the book and review pages 168-171.

And now, as promised, good citizens, it's time to learn about the Semicolon's second superpower, and here it is on this second mini-poster:
As this mini-poster states, the Semicolon's second superpower allows her to separate a list of items that occur in a series (just like the Comma's power to list a series. See pages 115-118 in Super Grammar). However, the Semicolon will usually only step in with this power when commas are already being used as a form of punctuation within the listed series. Here's an example: 

We caught these crooks: Mack, the brains; Stack, the muscle; and Slack, the flunky.

The example sentence above is listing a series of three captured crooks (Mack, Stack, and Slack), and each crook has a short description which has been added on with a comma ("the brains," "the muscle," and "the flunky"). 

Since commas are already being used as a form of punctuation within the items being listed, it would be confusing if commas were also used as the form of punctuation to separate the items in the list. So instead of adding more commas (and confusion), the correct way to separate the items in this series is to use semicolons, because semicolons can act as an additional form of punctuation which can clearly and distinctly separate the items of this list.

Excelsior! You now know the Semicolon's second superpower. And if you ever have a list of items in a series, and that list already includes commas, you'll know that you can use the power of the Semicolon to keep things super clear and super correct!

Thank you, good citizens, for joining us on this mighty and worthy day. We hope that you all have an amazing National Punctuation Day! And when it comes to fighting for your sentences and for proper punctuation, we hope that you'll always remember this:

Never give up; never surrender!

No comments:

Post a Comment