The Friday Fillip

semicolon.png…two days late.

And about a half important thing: the semicolon. It seems that there’s agony in some quarters again about the fate of the least celebrated member of the punctuation family this side of the interrobang. Semicolons (which seems an unfair name because it’s more than just half a colon: there’s a whole virgule in there too!) are either liked (can’t say loved) or hated (can say loathed). I’m solidly on the “like” side, finding them quite useful for joining two related thoughts that are somehow too hefty to be married by a mere comma but not sufficiently independent either to stand naked and alone on either side of a comma. I need them too, of course, if I’m listing things that themselves have commas within them. (See Wikipedia for a decent little essay on the thing.)

I raise the semicolon for your consideration because of an enjoyable article in the Guardian on Friday, “The End of the Line?” by John Henley, which talks about the latest French crise de quelque chose, lamenting the decline of the semicolon and blaming it (quoi de neuf?) on that dastardly English as she is now wrote.

But as you just learned, I like the semicolon and use it. So c’est pas ma faute. But how about you? Perhaps you’re one of those who shun this punctuation mark (and thus contribute to the decline of French). Do you use the semicolon in your writing? If not, would you consider deploying it from time to time to help out the French?


  1. I like the semi-colon; it is my favourite punctuation mark.

  2. Why only liked? I love it.

  3. Susannah Tredwell

    You can add me to the semicolon fan club; it’s just so darn addictive.