Let Us Now Praise the Semi-Colon
The semicolon is underused in today’s writing; many believe, incorrectly, that it’s an archaic bit of punctuation. Mightier than the comma but less decisive than a period, semicolons deserve more respect. (Ignore Kurt Vonnegut, who once said the only reason to use a semicolon is to prove you have a higher education.) They’re especially useful in a list. For example, my favourite writers are Gay Talese, a journalist; Michael Ondaatje, a novelist; and Alice Munro, a short story writer. And what about the difference between a colon and a semicolon? A colon and a semicolon walk into a bar: the colon has a pint; the semicolon orders a half.