Monday Grammar & Teacher Journal

In Grammar on November 10, 2009 at 12:00 am


Last week, we talked about the first use of the semicolon. This week, we’ll talk about a second (and more common) use for a semicolon. A semicolon can create a legal run-on sentence. A run-on sentence is when you have more than one sentence punctuated as if it were one. Sometimes, though, you really do want that run-on, because you want to emphasize that the ideas in each sentence are closely related. In this case, the semicolon can come to your rescue. Here’s an example:

I sold my car last June; now I ride my bike everywhere.
He dropped the class the second week; I can see why.

In each of these instances, you have what could be two full sentences on either side of the semicolon. That’s exactly what you want. There is one catch with using a semicolon this way, though. The ideas in the two sentences that you’re joining must be closely related. If they’re not, you’ve misused the  semicolon.

One great trick about semicolons is that you can use them at the last minute too. If you’ve printed your paper and are just about ready to hand it in but notice a run-on sentence, you can often just create a semicolon with a black pen and fix it right then and there. Very handy.


I spent the weekend working on my own reading and writing. In the classroom, I’m often telling my students to read lots and write regularly. It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t do the same in my own life, would it?

Right now, I’m reading an amazing book about goats. I know. It’s a strange topic. The author, Brad Kessler, talks about his experiences moving from the city to the country to live a quieter life — with goats. Kessler is one of my all-time favorite authors, and his writing (even — or especially — about goats) is beautiful, haunting, and unforgettable. Here’s a link to information about the book, if you’re curious: Goat Song, by Brad Kessler.

I’m reading this book on my iPod, using the Amazon Kindle app. More and more books are available digitally this year — and it’s downright convenient to be able to carry Goat Song in my pocket or my purse. I can read while in line at the grocery store, while waiting for a bus, or while waiting for a meeting to begin.

How do you read? Let me know in the comments!


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