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Semicolon

From Academic Kids

Punctuation marks

apostrophe ( ' ) ( )
brackets ( ( ) ) ( [ ] ) ( { } ) ( Template:Unicode )
colon ( : )
comma ( , )
dashes ( Template:Unicode ) ( ) ( ) ( )
ellipsis ( ) ( ... )
exclamation mark ( ! )
full stop/period ( . )
hyphen ( - ) ( Template:Unicode )
interrobang ( Template:Unicode )
question mark ( ? )
quotation marks ( ‘ ’ ) ( “ ” )
semicolon ( ; )
slash/solidus ( / )
space (   ) and interpunct ( )

Other typographer's marks

ampersand ( & )
asterisk ( * ) and asterism ( Template:Unicode )
at ( @ )
backslash ( \ )
bullet ( , more )
dagger ( † ‡ )
degrees ( ° )
number sign ( # )
prime ( )
tilde ( ~ )
underscore ( _ )
vertical bar/pipe ( | )

A semicolon ( ; ) is a kind of punctuation mark.

Contents

History

The origin of the semicolon is traced back to the Italian printer Aldus Manutius the elder. He used it to separate words opposed in meaning, and to mark off interdependent statements.

The earliest general use of the semicolon in English was in 1591. Shakespeare's sonnets have semicolons, and Ben Jonson was the first notable English writer to systematically use them.

Uses

In English, the semicolon has two main uses:

  1. It binds two sentences more closely than they would be if separated by a full stop or period. It often replaces a conjunction such as and or but. A writer might consider this appropriate where they are trying to indicate a close relationship between two sentences, or a 'run-on' in meaning from one to the next; they don't wish the connection to be broken by the abrupt use of a full-stop.
  2. It is used as a stronger division than a comma, to make meaning clear in a sentence where commas are already being used for other purposes. A common example of this use is to separate the items of a list when some of the items themselves contain commas.

There are several rules that govern semicolon placement:

  1. Use a semicolon between closely related independent clauses not joined by a coordinating conjunction: "I went to the store; they were closed."
  2. Use a semicolon between independent clauses linked with a transitional phrase or conjunctive adverb: "I like to ride horses; however, they don't like to ride me."
  3. Use a semicolon between items in a series containing internal punctuation: "There are several Waffle Houses in Atlanta, Georgia; Greenville, South Carolina; Pensacola, Florida; and Mobile, Alabama."

Some experts will allow for a semicolon to separate independent clauses that are joined by coordinating conjunctions when the clauses have internal commas that might lead to misreading: "After the game, I won a red beanie baby, four edible ingots, and a certificate of excellence; but when the storm came, I lost it all in a torrent of sleet, snow, and profanity."

Semicolons are always placed after closing quotation marks and are never followed by an uppercase letter, unless that letter begins a proper noun.

In Greek, a semicolon indicates a question, similar to a Latin question mark.

In computer programming:

  1. The semicolon corresponds to Unicode and ASCII character 59, or 0x003B. In many imperative programming languages it separates instructions (such as in Pascal and JavaScript); thus it may be interpreted similar to its use in speech as an 'and', e.g. the code 'x; y' can be regarded as a single composed instruction meaning 'do instruction x and then do instruction y' . In other procedural programming language it terminates instructions (as in Ada, Java, C, and C++). In contrast, some assembly languages and many other types of code treat lines beginning with a semicolon as a comment.

Examples

I am alone; my wife had to leave.
I travelled to London, England; Tijuana, Mexico; and Reykjavk, Iceland.
Lisa scored 2,845,770 points; Marcia, 2,312,860; and Jeff, 1,726,640.

Quote

"If you really want to hurt your parents, and you dont have the nerve to be a homosexual, the least you can do is go into the arts. But do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites, standing for absolutely nothing. All they do is show youve been to college." - Kurt Vonnegut

References

  • Hacker, Diana (2002). The Bedford Handbook (6th ed.). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's ISBN 0-312-41281-9.

External link

eo:Punktokomo es:Punto y coma fr:Point-virgule he:נקודה פסיק ja:; nl:Puntkomma ru:Точка с запятой sv:Semikolon zh:分號

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