By ANNE DONNELL
What are semicolons used for? I guess I wasn’t listening that day (days?), and now I’m curious. (“For what are semicolons used” – right? I do remember you are not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition, but I do it anyway.) Thanks for all your language police work with highlights from literature. You often make me laugh. -Call Me Grammar Deaf Not listening during PUNCTUATION INSTRUCTION? You and 300 million others. Drive around town reading signs; the apostrophes alone make me weep. OK, I don’t “weep.” I sometimes roll my eyes – something teenagers taught me – and I often sigh, as in defeat. Why are Americans so CPR? (Correct Punctuation Resistant, although you were probably going for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and thinking “Kiss of Death” and so forth because you watch too much television. Well, kiss your mama or the mother of your children. Do something nice for a mother or in her name. Or else. We know where you live. Who says all mothers are nice?)
ONLINE DEPARTMENT – (Yes, Mother’s Day next Sunday, so this is nice) “The Price of Children” (Thanks, J&MA) The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with $160,140.00 for a middle income family… That doesn't even touch college tuition. But $160,140.00 isn't so bad if you break it down. It translates into:* $8,896.66 a year,* $741.38 a month, * $171.08 a week.* A mere $24.24 a day!* Just over a dollar an hour. Still, you might think the best financial advice is: don't have children if you want to be rich. Actually, it is just the opposite. What do you get for your $160,140.00?* Naming rights. First, middle, and last!* Glimpses of God every day.* Giggles under the covers every night.* More love than your heart can hold.* Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.* Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm cookies.* A hand to hold usually covered with jelly or chocolate.* A partner for blowing bubbles and flying kites.* Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what the boss said or how your stocks performed that day.
For $160,140.00, you never have to grow up. You get to:* finger-paint,* carve pumpkins,* play hide-and-seek,* catch lightning bugs, * never stop believing in Santa Claus. You have an excuse to:* keep reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh,* watch Saturday morning cartoons,* go to Disney movies, and * wish on stars.
You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator magnets and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas, hand prints set in clay for Mother's Day, and cards with backward letters for Father's Day. For a mere $24.24 a day, there is no greater bang for your buck.
You get to be a hero just for:* retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof,* taking the training wheels off a bike,* removing a splinter,* filling a wading pool,* coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and * coaching a baseball team that never wins but always gets treated to ice cream regardless.
You get a front row seat in history to witness the: * First step, * First word, * First bra, * First date, * First time behind the wheel.
You get to be immortal. You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you're lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called grandchildren and great -grandchildren. You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice, communications, and human sexuality that no college can match. In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there under God. You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love them without limits, so one day they will, like you, love without counting the cost.
That is quite a deal for the price! Love and enjoy your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren and neighborhood children and nephews and nieces. It's the best investment you'll ever make.
The matter of the preposition at the end of the sentence I’m ignoring. Maybe another day. Well, let’s note it’s common, and it’s effective used informally. Rooting it out is rather like transferring a mountain from one state to another using a spoon.
SEMICOLON. (1) The biggest job is joining related independent clauses when a coordinating conjunction (EXAMPLES and, or, but) is NOT used. What you have is one sentence with two independent thoughts, but thoughts that relate to each other. BAD EXAMPLE. The sun is shining so brightly today; Susan likes to smear cold dust on her face. GOOD EXAMPLE. The robbery stunned the witnesses; many of them were visibly upset.
When a semicolon is used to connect two independent clauses (plus any dependent clauses modifying elements of the independent) there are often words like however, therefore, moreover (FYI – those are called conjunctive adverbs or, maybe you prefer, “pompous addition”) used following the semicolon. EXAMPLE (GOOD, OF COURSE) I’d like to visit your aunt tomorrow when you visit her; however, I have a doctor’s appointment I can’t miss.
(2) Another job of the semicolon is to clarify and separate a series of items that contain commas. EXAMPLE The dates mentioned were January 17, 1821; September 5, 1902; and August 23, 1879.
So Grammar Deaf, thanks for asking. I know your mom, by the way. She’s proud of you. All the way.
BW (Bigtime Word) objurgate – chide, strongly scold. My hobby, machine gun style.