“Let’s eat Grandma” vs. “Let’s eat, Grandma”

I’m a sucker for engaging punctuation; I find that it makes whatever I’m reading infinitely more interesting. But my favorite punctuation is, without a doubt, the infamous semicolon.

The semicolon receives a lot of negative feedback. Kurt Vonnegut once described the semicolon by saying, “They are transvestite hermaphrodites, standing for absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college”. I don’t understand the adversity; a semicolon is like a really healthy relationship. It  joins two substantial ideas together because it knows they will be stronger as one. It lets the reader know that these two ideas are more intensely connected than any other ideas surrounding them.

The semicolon captures that fleeting breath between two clauses (smaller than a period pause but longer than a comma pause). It produces fluidity and rhythm that cannot be replicated by any other mark. It also is an easy way to avoid the ever-aggravating comma splice.

On the other hand, there are many parts of punctuation that I cannot stand. The over-usage of commas is a killer. Sometimes I wonder if people read their stuff out loud before publishing. If they did, they would have to realize that pausing, after, every, word, sounds, a little, strange. I’m not saying that I’m perfect; I am definitely guilty of comma wrongdoings from time to time. But I believe that less is more when it comes to the small baseline character.

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5 thoughts to ““Let’s eat Grandma” vs. “Let’s eat, Grandma””

  1. Hi Caroline, I loved the Kurt Vonnegut quote you included. He seems pretty adamant in his disdain for the semicolon! It was funny. I definitely will have to take your advice and read my writing aloud before completion (especially before YOU read it!) because I tend to place commas every time I pause naturally and you’re right, sometimes, it’s, just, too, much! Also never forget – semicolon

  2. Word. Also, I think you and ideas have similar ideas about semicolons, i.e. them being “like a healthy relationship” and “capturing a fleeting breath between two clauses”. I’ve always categorized them as being “sexy” because they signify an intimate relationship between two clauses, which I think is a similar to what you say about them, though maybe a bit more crass :).

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