Semi-Interested in the Semicolon

The semicolon is semi-new to me. Until recently, I rarely thought about or used this punctuation mark. I know this may be surprising, and I question how this even occurred. For years, I must have read (over) many semicolons and took them at face value without giving them very much thought. I definitely did not accept Microsoft Word’s offering them to me when checking spelling, which meant I wrote many academic papers and articles without a single semicolon appearance. I find myself amazed at how long I seemed to have left it alone. However, the semicolon has come to my attention and with this has come uncertainty about why I find it so foreign.

My quasi-discovery of the semicolon began this summer. While reading articles and books, I saw this punctuation mark everywhere. It was as if every writer had decided to use one (or several) in their article or book in 2015. I doubt the semicolon is suddenly trendy this year, but I want to believe more writers are utilizing this punctuation mark now than ever before. I know this cannot be and is simply me looking for an external explanation. The reality is I just became more aware of the semicolon, which might have occurred at the same time there was a slight increase in usage. I will leave the answer on quantity of usage to someone looking for a dissertation topic.

The semicolon uncertainty is centered around whether I ever formally learned how to use one. Maybe there was a lesson on them at some point in my years of education, but I am really not sure. I do recall pondering them once in high school, but it was fleeting and in the context of a peer’s paper. This is quite similar to my questions about my contraction education. In case anyone is wondering, my contacting has improved. I now know how to make all sorts of contractions, but there are some that will always be made purposefully (example: she’d) and not naturally. This is neither here nor there.

The more I see the semicolon, the more I think about it. I have concluded that for me, the semicolon is mysterious. It is a punctation mark that was always there, but I never punctuated with and therefore, it seems like a novelty. I approach it with a bit of uncertainty and marvel. I wonder why is everyone else using semicolons? Does it possess powers I have yet to discover? Is it possible that I missed the semicolon memo? Do some writers use the semicolon because they see other writers using them, or do they see a true need for this punctuation mark in their writing? How many of people are truly using it correctly? Beyond that, I just keep wondering why I never thought about it.

Since I believe I was never taught how to use a semicolon, I decided it was time to learn about this punctuation mark. I have done my semicolon due diligence. I read about how to use one, studied how other writers incorporate it in their work, and then started to experiment with it in my work. I have concluded that semicolons are useful; I might begin to use them in my writing. At the same, I do not want to use it to use it. I want to punctuate with purpose.

Time will tell whether I begin to punctuate with this mark. Perhaps I will always be a period and conjunction kind of writer. For now, I remain semi-interested in the semicolon; the semi-new punctation mark I recently discovered.