A Comma Walks Into a Bar: Semi-Colon as the Designated Driver

WARNING: This post has a lot of mixed metaphors and anthropomorphic punctuation marks.

Let me introduce you to the semi-colon. SC, as I lovingly refer to it (and because I don’t want to retype “semi-colon” twenty times) is the mark that is a hybrid of a comma and a colon—dot on top, curve on the bottom—sort of the mullet of punctuation marks. Sadly, SC is the most misunderstood of the punctuation marks, the black sheep of the sentence family, so to speak. SC often gets left out of the family gatherings in favor of the more popular member, Comma. Comma gets a lot of attention—it’s a real go-getter, a must-have at the sentence parties. No one wants to go out on the town without Comma. Unfortunately, Comma often winds up in places it doesn't belong. SC really needs to go along too and make sure everyone gets home safe.

Commas are just too social and irresponsible. SC has got its act together—it knows where it belongs. SC is always having to cover for Comma’s excessive partying. Too many Commas already on the dance floor? SC steps in and makes sure everyone’s sticking with the right clique. SC is a great matchmaker too. Independent clauses need a hook-up? Boom, SC is setting up that date. SC is kind of like a chaperone. It makes sure independent clauses are appropriately separated, and it makes sure too many commas in one place don’t cause excessive confusion.

In summation, don’t sprinkle commas into your text like you’re shaking salt on a baked potato. Let the semi-colon be your Mrs. Dash.