Defended as a signal of clarity, ridiculed as an unnecessary annoyance, nothing ignites the fire of a grammarian quite like the Oxford comma. If you’ve been lucky enough to have a teacher, colleague, or boss who was particularly passionate about the subject, then you may know that this punctuation easily ruffles feathers (just like the misunderstood semicolon).
“For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”
The above sentence is attributed to Ernest Hemingway, who allegedly bet his friends that he could write an entire story in just six words. As the apocryphal story goes, he wrote the one-sentence story on a bar napkin, passed it around, and promptly collected his winnings.
Regardless of whether Hemingway wrote that story, it reminds us of an important writing maxim: longer does not always equal better.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one: What did the semicolon get after breaking the grammar law? Two consecutive sentences.
Jokes aside, the dreaded and often misunderstood semicolon has been the cause of much consternation among countless writers, young and old.
Kurt Vonnegut, author of 14 novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five works of non-fiction, famously said of semicolons, “All they do is show you’ve been to college.”
Well, we’ve been to college. And today we’re going to take you to semicolon school. It’s taking up valuable real estate on your keyboard and now it’s time you learned how to use them, properly.
"And the Oscar goes to…"
These five words are familiar to all of us and for some, we even dream to hear our name accompany them one day. At the 90th Academy Awards, Jordan Peele fulfilled his dream and made history doing so.
Peele's night was momentous and offers plenty of life lessons. His acceptance speech, in particular, teaches us about perseverance as he revealed the tremendous self-doubt he faced that almost stopped him from finishing the screenplay.
“[I don’t] give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way.” Bold, and surprising, words coming from one our country’s most famous writers, Mark Twain. With all due respect to Twain, we disagree. In business, spelling is more than the correct ordering of letters on a page – it’s your credibility, your professionalism, and your brand on the line.
Look above. Is that single line of text the reason you’re reading this? We are bombarded by headlines all day, each one attempting to lure us in, tell us about a hot news topic or convince us to buy something. And a bad headline, frankly, is like beautifully staging a house for sale, but doing little to create curb appeal.