Whenever I reveal to someone that I am an English major, I’m convinced they immediately picture me in a classroom diagramming sentence after sentence or taking an exam on proper comma usage. And yes, while it is absolutely expected that an English major has a better than average grasp on grammar rules and regulations, there has yet to be a class in which I actively study such things. In fact, in my 325 class last semester, my professor told us that correcting grammar in our classmate’s drafts that we were peer editing was kind, but not essential. This is because they should be aware of their own mistakes and already possess the knowledge to properly correct them. That being said, I am not a “grammar Nazi.” I don’t walk around judging people for misplaced commas or dangling participles. When my friend sends me a text saying “Whats up?” do I immediately respond with “Don’t you mean ‘What’s up?'” No. I’m not THAT person. So bear that in mind as you keep reading.
That being said, there is one grammar rule that I find I cannot overlook and must correct and chastise whoever commits this mistake. I think that, at our age, we should all know the difference between “your” and “you’re” and “there” “their” and “they’re.” If I see a sentence that reads “When did you’re brother get home?” I literally want to punch something. When I read an email that says “The envelopes are their on the table,” I usually do punch something. It gets under my skin like a sliver of wood and I have to say something, despite the fact that people usually resent me for it. But what can I do? I can’t seem to help it.
On a lighter note, there are plenty of things about grammar that I appreciate. I can’t help to find something beautiful in the semicolon. Don’t you think so, too? No? Okay, well then it’s probably just me. I think the main attraction to this lovely addition to the English language is that not many people know how to implement it correctly and so they fear it. It’s kind of like when you are taking an exam and you are offered two essay prompts and told to pick one to write about. You’ve done the reading (because you are the poster boy/girl for a good student) but there is something about that first prompt that you are not 100% sure about. You THINK you might be able to produce a solid essay out of it, but that feeling in your stomach persists, so you go with the second prompt, just to be safe.
Such is the way most people feel about the semi colon. Sure they’ve seen it used many times before, but there is that ever-so-slight, lingering feeling of doubt that gives them pause. Is this the right way to use it? I’m not sure this is correct? So they make the sentence into two, or add a conjunction. Just so they aren’t wrong.
That’s why I love the semicolon. When I see it used correctly or even manage to use it correctly myself, I am thrilled. It is rare that I am able to properly pull of the slightly foggy use of the semicolon, so when I do, I cherish that moment as much as I can. I suppose a remembrance of that feeling has stuck with me and become associated with semi colons in my mind. So now I love them, even though I know that make me kind of weird. I mean, you can use it as a “winky” face. What more do you want out of a punctuation mark?
(also: shout out to imgur for the adorable grammar Nazi kitten featured in this post)