For another blog that I help produce, for the Professional Writing and Communications program that I help administer and teach in at Humber College, I do regular Q&As with instructors and staff. And a regular question I ask in our Q&A posts is about the interviewee’s favourite grammar rule. Because we’re all grammar nerds to varying degrees, and generally proud of it.
So, I thought I’d turn this on myself.12
Our associate dean already took my favourite answer, in her statement about loving the way that language changes and how the best way to look at grammar was as a living breathing thing. And declaring her fondness for the Oxford comma.
I think if I had to choose one rule it’s appropriate use of the semicolon, only because it’s the worst abused by students. Despite grammar literacy being fairly low among students, because it’s not taught as rigorously in high school, somehow students feel like they know about the semicolon and free to drop it everywhere.
I think the semicolon is a precious thing that should only be used in the rarest of situations.
I’d probably be fine if it were to disappear altogether, and have a conspiracy theory in the works that speculates the semicolon is kept in play partially by these students who don’t know how to use it.
I’m usually a friendly and sympathetic corrector of grammar, but the semicolon addiction baffles me. Stop using it; you’ll only make the situation worse. See what I did there?