Colons and Semicolons – Free Ebook

Colon’s and semicolons are among the most useful but also rich generous and psychologically interesting kinds of punctuation they look of course very similar and that can cause confusion and alarm but the distinction is very simple visually the colon consists of two dots spaced apart one above the other while the semicolon is a dot floating above a comma in terms of their use although they’re both used to link together parts of a sentence the grammatical rules which govern them work in quite different ways a colon is used either to explain something in more detail or to identify a set of things explicitly so for example Maria only wanted the best from life then we put the colon in here a beautiful home a loving family and a glittering career but we also use a colon whenever we want to drill deeper into a topic maria didn’t know what to think then in it goes after the divorce she had to question everything what follows the colon can be a list a sentence in its own right or even a single word as in this example maria still had one important quality strength a semicolon is different and in its way a great deal more subtle it links together two sentences that might have stood on their own but it throws their relationship into particular focus for example maria had had enough then in goes the semicolon she preferred to be alone than misunderstood by another person a semicolon could always be replaced with a full stop but a full stop doesn’t do what a semicolon does so wonderfully give us a sense that two statements are related observed two what would happen to this sentence if we put in at colon rather than a semicolon maria had had enough she preferred to be alone than misunderstood by another person things get blunter and more linear this means that all of Maria’s fed openness was to do with being misunderstood but in life connections tend to be more like semicolons than colons take this description of Frank’s mood connected up with a semicolon Frank had a feeling of melancholy autumn was coming semicolons can artfully draw comparison or contrast between related statements one of the greatest fans of semicolons was the American 19th century writer William James it was for him a piece of punctuation ideally suited to keeping the flow of the mind from either stopping altogether as if it had been dammed as it does with a full stop or else turning into an uncontained incomprehensible torrent here are two examples from William James’s work of semicolons in operation good humor is a philosophic state of mind it seems to say to nature that we take her no more seriously than she takes us I maintain that one should always talk of philosophy with a smile and here’s another paragraph from William James which uses a lot of semicolons a great nation is not saved by Wars it is saved by acts without external picturesqueness by speaking writing voting reasonably by smiting corruption swiftly by good temper between parties by the people knowing true men when they see them and preferring them as leaders to rabid partisans and empty quacks colons are logical they unpack things but semicolons are closer to life they are what we use when we want to connect but can’t entirely explain when things are related but not entirely dependent the semicolon by gently linking ideas together invites reflections and interesting juxtapositions instead of closing off a thought it introduces another giving us paused see symbiotic links its tone is mature and tentative for example I believed that life was a series of simple decisions but the more I lived the more complicated those decisions became we would be wise to see more things in life through the distinctive lens of the semicolon thank you for watching remember to like the video and please subscribe to our channel for more our self-help journal is a beautiful empty journal designed to give you time and space to reflect and thereby grow you who understands more about your needs than anyone else are its author

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