Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Oh, the Semicolon!

Strunk and White’s “Elementary Rules of Usage” rule #5 (Do not join independent clauses by a comma) states, “If two or more independent clauses grammatically complete and not joined by a conjunction are to form a single compound sentence, the proper mark of punctuation is a semicolon.”

How many of you apply this rule correctly?

I read an entertaining blog post today at The Blood Red Pencil. The author calls the semicolon her new love and encourages its use. Ugh! No, no, no! While the semicolon is a valid piece of grammar, and proper usage of it can produce powerful prose, overuse and misuse of this miniscule mark more often than not result in sloppy structure.

Too often writers use a semicolon to “fancy up” their manuscripts. Maybe they get bored with commas, or perhaps they think periods are too finite. The semicolon is delicate. It signals a pause to the reader; it says stop here a bit longer than a comma, but not as permanently as a period. It provides a brief break or a subtle change in thought without taking the reader in a completely new direction. It’s like taking a breath.

Semicolons should be used sparingly. Sometimes adverbs like however, therefore, or besides follow a semicolon to begin the second clause, but never, ever, ever follow a semicolon with a conjunction. My advice? When in doubt, terminate the first clause with a period and begin a new sentence.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Email Funnies

Creative Puns for Educated Minds (Received in an email - author unknown)

1. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.

2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

3. She was only a whisky maker, but he loved her still.

4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption.

5. The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.

6. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

7. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

8. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

9. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

10. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

11. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.

12. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

13. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, "You stay here, I'll go on a head."

14. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then, it hit me.

15. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said, "Keep off the Grass."

16. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse said, "No change yet."

17. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

18. It's not that the man did not know how to juggle, he just didn't have the balls to do it.

19. The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

20. The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

21. A backward poet writes inverse.

22. In democracy, it's your vote that counts. In feudalism, it's your count that votes.

23. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.

24. Don't join dangerous cults: Practice safe sects!

This sums it up ;)

This sums it up ;)