Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Colonic Devices


I did promise to post on this, didn't I?
The rules regarding the semicolon and the colon?

Semicolon:
(1) Is used to separate independent clauses of a compound sentence when they are not joined by a conjunction. One may choose to avoid this use by making each independent clause a separate sentence. However, one may at times wish to avoid the"chop" of too many short sentences.
Ex: Our house burned down; it was the last blow.

Exception: If three or more short independent clauses are similar in form and related in thought, a comma may be used.
Ex: I came, I saw, I conquered.

(2) To separate independent clauses joined by the conjunctive adverbs: as hence, however, therefore, nevertheless, etc:
Ex: Caesar was dead; hence Rome was in confusion.
Funds were inadequate; therefore the project was scrapped.

(3) Used frequently to separate items in a series when each item contains commas ( like a list of addresses or offices) to avoid the confusion of what belongs to whom.
Ex: The elected officers are Jonathan Crane, president; Reverent Jackson, vice president; Edward Morrell, treasurer; and Professor J.W. Inglis, secretary.

(4) To separate related items that cannot be joined without ambiguity:
Ex: Poverty is unbearable; luxury, insufferable.
(Otherwise one is suggesting that while poverty is unbearable, it's also a luxury...)

(5) To precede an abbreviation, word or phrase that introduces an explanation or summary.(Common ones are: namely, for example, as, that is (i.e.)
Ex: On the advice of his broker, he chose to invest in major industries; i.e., steel, automobiles, and oil.
A pronoun is a word used in place of a noun; for example, he, we, who, they.

Colons:
(1) to introduce a simple list, series, or examples.
Ex: He named his five favourite poets: Malory, Tennyson, Coleridge, Yeats, and Eliot.

(2) To introduce a long formal statement, quotation or question.
Ex: This I believe: Freedom is never free and the tree of liberty must be watered by the blood of patriots.
Poets often comment how nature contrasts with personal agony: "How can ye chant , ye little birds, when I so weary, full of care?"
The burning question remains: How in hell does a beginner get published?
Note that the first word following the colon is capitalized.

(3) Following a formal salutation in a letter or speech.
Ex: Dear Agent:
Ladies and Gentlemen:

(4)Following the name of the speaker in a play.
Ex: First Witch: Where hast thou been, sister?
Second Witch: Killing swine.

(5) To separate parts of a citation.
Ex: Genesis 3:2
Journal of Criminology 38: 199-232.

(6) To separate hours and minutes.
Ex: 12:05 p.m.

(7) To indicate further explanation or illustration of a main point.
The colon, in effect, replaces and substitutes for the usual indicators: such as, for example, namely, etc.
Ex: It was a city notorious for its inadequacies: its schools were antiquated, its administration was corrupt, and its taxes were extraordinarily burdensome.

NOTE: Each Sunday, Glenda Larke runs a column on various grammatical issues. Her examples and explanations are particularly good.

Some of the stuff above is taken from the back of the Random House Dictionary (College Edition) as well as my favourite Olde Grammar Booke.

23 comments:

Flood said...

I abuse both of these; daily. Thanks!

Erik Ivan James said...

I still think you ought to have a separate archives section on your blog for these educational posts.
They are extremely informative.

Bernita said...

~snort~
So I see, Flood...

Thank you, Erik.

photo-effe said...

très beau rendu...

S. W. Vaughn said...

I adore semicolons and colons. And dashes. And fragments.

See?

:-)

Do you think it's common these days for people to use em dashes in place of colons? I've noticed that I have been heavy-handed with the em dashes throughout my series thus far, but right now I'm working on a romantic suspense and I'm using more colons and less dashes, in places where either would be appropriate.

I wonder if it's a style thing, or a genre thing, or if I'm overcomplicating the issue. That's likely. :-)

Bernita said...

Merci, mon ami.

I think style conventions have loosened considerably.
I'm glad of it- especially since I also found I'm using many more em dashes than before.
In the end it comes down to the editor or the copy editor's particular fixation about what is appropriate.

Carla said...

Atrocious handwriting or not, I still think Miss Bustlewhistle must have been sceretly proud of you :-)

Erik may well have a point there. You could put some links in the sidebar to particular posts, if you'd like to. I bet your children know how to do it.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Colonic...LOL....blogger needs a colonic. I like Flood abuse both of those on a daily basis. But I got to the place where I just write what I want to say, then go back and edit them all out..LOL!

Blogger is still a bugger. My posting abilities are still stuck, and I've resorted to posting an update in the left sidebar of my template!

Dennie McDonald said...

I was told (can't remeber by whom) that if I was going to use ";" just to go ahead and make it into two separate sentances... and every sonce - I have...

Dennie McDonald said...

too bad my spelling really sucks! since not sonce... sheesh!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Carla.
Maybe. I impose on them so much as it is that I hesitate.

Have you yelled at them, Bonnie? That's really weird.Was anxiously awaiting the next installment too.

There is a time and place for semicolons, Dennie.

Jen said...

I'm HORRIBLE with my grammar rules. Thanks for the info. Not that I'll remember it or anything. Thank God for my cp or I'd never know when I screw up.
And Erik, if she had a seperate section, I'd never look at it. I have a terrible abhorrence to grammar rules. Of course I do! *Sigh*. I wonder if I'll ever be an improved writer or if I'll always fly by the seat of my grammar-sucking-hole-in-plot pants.

December Quinn said...

Sigh. I adore the semicolon, but like Dennie, I've heard in too many places that editors hate them.

So I very rarely use them. I use two sentences instead.

Bernita said...

We all have our private rebellions, Jen.

They can be avoided often in much fiction, December. Consider them more a non-fiction thingy.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

No, I haven't yelled but I've inundated them with emails for help!

I like ellipsis and em dashes!

M.E Ellis said...

Ugh! I commented on here but my AOL connection died. So I'm back!

I don't like semi colons. I don't put them in my work, they are usually edited in by my editor. I prefer two sentences.

:o)

Bernita said...

Hope they get their rear in gear soon, Bonnie... I'm suffering withdrawal.

The perverted thing!
BTW, people, ME's book "Pervalism" came out in March from Wild Child Publishing.

Jaye Wells said...

*Eats Shoot and Leaves* is another excellent book about punctuation; it is hilarious.

Bernita said...

Yes, Jaye, I understand it is highly recommended.

M.E Ellis said...

Thanks for the plug, Bernita! Bless you.

:o)

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