Wednesday, 18 October 2017

To colon or to semi-colon...

This is a tiny stylistic thing, but it was my understanding that we start a list with a full colon, then separate each item within that list using a semi-colon. Additionally, a semi-colon can be a pause in the run of a sentence (more significant than a comma), or the joining of two equal parts of a sentence together, while a colon signifies the start of a list… though sometimes that list might only be one item.

I thought that this was just one of those crazy English grammar rules, but there is a hierarchy in how we use punctuation: 
  • A comma is a soft pause, or an aside; 
  • A semi-colon is a stronger pause, or a phrase connector, and brackets are a stronger aside; 
  • A colon is the start of a list, or flagging stronger related idea emphasis, and the em dash is a much stronger aside; and 
  • A full stop ends the lot of them.
 How this can look in practice is:
    Original:
    Nine key roles are identified that make up Supers Life-Career Rainbow 1) Child (not just by age but by being a Son or Daughter) , 2) Student, 3) Leisurite (someone who pursues leisure activities), 4) Citizen, 5) Worker, 6) Spouse, 7) Homemaker, 8) Parent and 9) Pensioner.
    Repunctuated:

    Nine key roles are identified that make up Super's Life-Career Rainbow are: Child, not just by age but by being a Son or Daughter; Student; Leisurite, someone who pursues leisure activities; Citizen; Worker; Spouse; Homemaker; Parent; and Pensioner.

    Interesting, isn't it!


    Sam

    2 comments :

    1. Done this once, but it seems to have disappeared into the bowels of Google.
      It began something like this:
      Ha! Great little heuristic diagram, could have saved me hours of angst. I have spent the last year honing my punctuation in my creative writing.
      The use of punctuation also differs/has changed over space and time.
      I'm now researching/writing a paper on it.
      The main thing that all modern writers/publishers agree on is that they hate the use of exclamation marks! I love 'em!

      ReplyDelete
    2. Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the image :-)
      Who knew?! I didn't know that publishers didn't like exclamation marks!

      ReplyDelete