Semicolons Are Wrong?

OK, I had to create this poll. I really had to. An author on Twitter said she doesn’t think there’s a place for semicolons in modern fiction: “When editors put them in character’s dialogue, it is like a reading speed bump to me. Seems unnatural.”

I’m flabbergasted. I’m vacillating between speechless, sputtering, and ranting at my husband. Don’t let my reaction bias you. Tell me what you really think (and if you vote no, please tell me why in the comments).

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56 Responses to Semicolons Are Wrong?

  1. bethany says:

    my ex-boyfriend definitely speaks with semi-colons. If I was writing fictional dialogue like he talks, it would have semi-colons.

  2. Andrew says:

    Semicolons are not essential. They provide a shade of meaning through collocation generally absent in these times.

  3. Janet Reid says:

    What the hell kind of conversations are y’all having that you don’t use semicolons? Perchance you need to spend more time with witty, urbane storytellers; clearly you’re missing out.

  4. Susan M says:

    Why shouldn’t dialogue be punctuated correctly? If a character utters a sentence that requires a semicolon, then the semicolon should be there. I would find it more of a speed bump to read a sentence that was incorrectly punctuated–that always takes my focus away from the content and makes me think about the grammatical error instead. It might be more fair to say that most real people don’t use long or complicated sentences when they speak, so if semicolons are popping up a lot in dialogue it’s a signal that the dialogue itself is unnatural. But the problem would be the badly written dialogue itself, not something caused by semicolon use, or to be fixed by their removal.

  5. Debra says:

    People SPEAK in semi colons so why should dialogue be written with them?!? Often, however, a comma is placed where the semicolon belongs. This is becoming more and more common in these days of non-prescriptive writing.

  6. Debra says:

    Should read: “…why shouldn’t sentences…”

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