hamburger menu


The Blog Doctor: A Semicolonoscopy

Aside from maybe nuclear physics, punctuation must be the physically smallest and most polarizing topic around. For what’s essentially a series of funny-shaped dots, punctuation can really get the blood boiling—amongst prescriptivist grammarians and LOL-loving texters alike.And the mark that gets us barking most, of course, is the oft-befuddling, presumedly pretentious semicolon. But I, the Blog Doctor, submit that the semicolon simply suffers from a case of mistaken identity. The colon-comma-combo isn’t some obfuscation device reserved for the annals of academia, but a wickedly utile little friend that we ought all to start peppering into our paragraphs.


How Semicolons Work 

Without getting too deep into grammatical jargon, a semicolon connects two independent clauses. If your palms started getting clammy at the mere mention of “independent clauses”, don’t worry. Remember how a sentence, at its core, is a subject (i.e. a noun) and a verb that form a complete thought? That’s what an independent clause is: a simple, punctuation-free sentence. So just think of a semicolon as a piece of punctuation that connects two sentences:

  • “The Blog Doctor was just too charismatic and handsome; I couldn’t help but fall in love.”

In the above sentence, both “the Blog Doctor was just too charismatic and handsome” and “I couldn’t help but fall in love” are stand-alone sentences, and so the semicolon is a perfect method of joining them.


Why Bother?

Why use a semicolon when I can use a period, right? WRONG. Periods are great, don’t get me wrong, but they’re harsh and abrupt. A period means the thought is over. Period. Semicolons give your sentence fecund connectivity, like graceful figure skaters entwined in one of those spinny moves. Here’s an example:

  1. “I think it’s something about the Blog Doctor’s eyes. They’re resplendent with the hazel of a prehistoric forest-garden.”
  2. “I think it’s something about the Blog Doctor’s eyes; they’re resplendent with the hazel of a prehistoric forest-garden.”

Option 1 feels odd, doesn’t it? Kind of stilted and halting? That’s because the two clauses in these examples relate back to one another; by using the semicolon, readers more naturally follow the connection between the quality of the eyes and what the speaker thinks about them. And that’s what grammar is all about: making the reader better understand the thoughts on the page. So let’s all relax—okay, grammarians and texters?


For more grammar tips, and tons of other great content, check out Brand & Mortar’s blog!


Sign up to get
insights in your inbox

We know that transparency is non-negotiable and that strong communication is the foundation of any great relationship. With the knowledge and expertise at Brand & Mortar we are confident that we can make an impact on your business and its bottom line.


31 Powerhouse St. Suite 203
Toronto, ON. M6H 0C7
416 729 1154





Digital Agency Network

With growing global concerns around COVID-19, the health and safety of our employees and clients is top of mind. Brand & Mortar services will remain open while our team works remotely until further notice. We want to assure our trusted clients that business will remain unchanged while we do our part to #FlattenTheCurve.

For more information, please read our formal statement here.