A Test for Your Semicolons


Here's a test to see whether that semicolon in your sentence should stay: Try recasting the passage without it. If the result is clearer, shorter, less cumbersome sentences, then you have your answer. More than 90% of the time, I find that semicolons result in worse sentences, not better ones. Turns out, the writer included the semicolon not for the reader's benefit -- that is, not to organize the information in best way possible -- but for his own benefit -- that is, to show off his own semicolon prowess.

That's why I'm anti-semicolon: They lead to clunky, inelegant, long, poorly organized sentences that don't take into account that it's the writer's job to serve the reader.

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