To Semicolon or Not To Semicolon? | A Finer Point of Grammar

To Semicolon or Not To Semicolon?


Editors Note: From time to time on this blog, I’ve featured guest posts. Today’s post is from Gina Vinnitsky, an SEO copywriter from Colorado. Gina came up with what I thought was an awesome content marketing meme. She’s written a series of short, clever articles on common punctuation conundrums and bundled them for distribution as guest posts. I’m envious of the idea, frankly, and wish I’d thought of it myself.

Here’s Gina’s post…

Most would agree that America is just one big melting pot of culture, traditions, and yes, even languages. Depending on where you are in this great nation, you can hear many different dialects and slang that will be vastly different from just a few states over. But our minds and tongues adapt and we can go on conversing with a Bostonian or Kansan with almost no problems at all. But even with all these varying nuances, one thing has remained constant from coast to coast: grammar. But if that’s the case, how come we encounter many more problems conversing over email or in a blog post than we do in person? Unfortunately, grammar seems to be the first thing that goes after we forget how to do long division. This is a both a tragedy and an occupational hazard for us copywriters because we simply can’t avoid using punctuation, even though some marks have become obscure and mystical creatures, relegated to the ranks of the unicorn and Big Foot. But fear not, fellow scribes! This article, though it is short, will refresh your memory about a punctuation mark that is both useful and stylish, a welcomed alternative to breaking up paragraphs with period after period. Yes, my friends, the semicolon is making a comeback!

Let’s just be honest and say that semicolons are scary and difficult to use. We learned its correct usage at the same age when we were still afraid of the dark, so perhaps that’s why we’re still afraid to employ its great power? But just like the time we realized the dark wasn’t scary anymore (hopefully, you’ve joined the rest of us on that conclusion), we can also realize the usefulness of a semicolon. In order to help all of us out, here is a quick rule of thumb that can’t fail. First ask yourself:

  1. Do I have two sentences that can stand on their own?
  2. Are the two sentences related?

If you answered yes to both questions, go right ahead and use a semicolon, if your heart so desires. For example, the correct use of a semicolon that engages two complete sentences and brings them together could look like this, “Dr. Jerry’s vast expertise in dentistry has prepared him for all situations; he loves working with both children and adults.” Technically, each half of the sentence could be separated and technically, you could use a period in place of the semicolon. With that said, you don’t always have to use a semicolon. It is a nice alternative to breaking up a paragraph with too many sentences.

Copywriting isn’t just about the words and it’s certainly not just about the grammar. However, when the two are combined you can create effective content that is pleasing to read and produces results. The bottom line here is that punctuation can make or break the message of your blog post, causing readers to either believe in your cause or consider you distrustful, spammy, and a huge waste of their time. Yes, deadlines get tight and writing can get lengthy and exhausting, but the one thing we shouldn’t be skimping on is the proper use of punctuation. Next time you are in the throes of copywriting, spend a little time to make sure your punctuation is valid and understandable. Not only will you find that your work is significantly easier to write with a smoother flow, but your clients and their readers will be satisfied and much more likely to convert, share, and keep coming back for more.

Gina Vinnitsky is a SEO Copywriter for Rumblelink, a Denver SEO agency with a team ready to fufill your SEO Copywriting needs. Check out their website to see how they can help you build your web presence.

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