Just what is a semicolon, why does it exist, and how do you use it? I’ve seen writers (and editors!) claim that a semicolon should never be used in dialogue, should never be used in narrative, or should never be used at all! There are obviously very strong feelings surrounding the semicolon, as well as some myths, and we’ll dispel them today.
A semicolon is this mark between the parentheses (;). It is exactly what it looks like—a cross between a period and a comma. In terms of pausing, a comma is the shortest pause, a semicolon is a little longer, and a period (or full stop, for those of you across the pond) is the longest pause. All three are appropriate punctuation marks in the English language—no matter what style of English you’re using—and can be both underused and overused.
In fiction writing, an author will generally be…
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