Sunday, 1 December 2013

The essential colon

Sometimes, people wonder whether colons and semi-colons are really necessary. Well, take this headline from today's paper, about the difficulties the broadcaster Clare Balding experienced when she told her grandmother she was gay:

Balding: grandma said being gay was disgusting.

Now remove the colon.

See what I mean?

31 comments:

  1. This , non-balding , grandma now chortling .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes - its an amusing thought, isn't it?

      Delete
  2. Excellent example, Frances! 8-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I hesitated before opening this post, as the title made me wonder if you'd veered off in an unsuspected direction. (Which I'm sure was your intention.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point, Tim. I shall aim for less amabiguity next time...

      Delete
  4. I rather like the semi-colon, I see it as a slight intake of breath. I don't understand its bad reputation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I LOVE colons and sem-colons, CM, especially the semis. I've read books recently that are just crying out for them. I find it impossible to write withough using them.

      Delete
  5. Very good example! I remember similar stories my husband told me about when he talked about the importance of correct punctuation with his students.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Replies
    1. I just loved that headline, Rosemary. It made my day!

      Delete
  7. LOL
    Watch out for balding grandmas! I worry about the loss of inverted commas. I've noticed that some authors have lost them. I suppose it's better than losing hair.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right, Fanny. I don't know why authors do this. It's very distracting, (apart from anything else) and confusing, as well. I guess it's a kind of gimmick.

      Delete
  8. The trouble is, students are no longer being taught the proper use of punctuation. Those of us who understand punctuation were not born knowing it. We had to be taught, and such usage is no longer being emphasized in schools.
    K

    ReplyDelete
  9. Let's eat Grandma. Let's eat, Grandma. Punctuation can save lives. I love colons and semi-colons. I use the Cambridge comma, though, so perhaps, to some, I'm not a purist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the Cambridge comma is optional. I used one yesteray, but don't always, But it doesn't quite alter meaning the way other punctuation marks do (although I'm sure you can think of an example, GB!)/

      Delete
  10. Good example. Colons and semi-colons are very, very important. I also like dashes and commas and all that stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I agree they are needed. I suspect all those who think they aren't are people who have no idea what to do with them.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm intrigued. What is the Cambridge comma?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think what we were both referring to is more commonly known as the Oxford comma, and it comes after the final 'and' in a list. Eg I packed socks, books, and potatoes.
      Not sure the Cambridge comma itself exists, but no doubt GB will put me right!

      Delete
    2. It is, of course, the Oxford comma. I would like to think that I was being smart or bluffing or something but in fact I simply had a brain fart and named the wrong university. Silly me.

      Delete
    3. I should add that I wouldn't use it in the normal course of events for a list of single words but there are circumstances where I would use it (for example where there are lists of items also joined by 'and'). I once did a draft post on it but I don't think I ever finished it. I shall try and look it out sometime.

      Delete
    4. Oh, GB - how would I manage without you?

      Delete
  13. That's very interesting GB. I always thought that you shouldn't put a comma before 'and', but I can see how after a list it would work.

    ReplyDelete
  14. You didn't mention it, but I love the exclamation!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What exclamation, Jill? Are you talking to me??

      Delete
    2. This has been a fun post.

      Delete