Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough


I’m noticing that; even in otherwise excellent essays my students are very creative with their use of; semicolons.

Semicolons are apparently something like the all-purpose punctuator – flexible, versatile, possessed of a certain je ne sais quoi apparently lacking in the commas, colons and full stops they so readily displace. Does anyone have any theories as to why semicolons are so appealing to students? Are they becoming like “whom” – something students toss in because they want to elevate a sentence by making it look like it contains “grammar”?

In any event, students who want to learn how to use semicolons properly, rather than just using them as random adornments within academic text, might check out the following interactive online resources:

Interactive exercises from Purdue’s always helpful OWL resource;

– Little, Brown Handbook’s semicolon exercises; and

– The Blue Book’s semicolon quiz.

Students can find interactive grammar exercises on other topics at the following sites:

Purdue’s OWL

The Little, Brown Handbook

Grammar Bytes!

Note that RMIT students can obtain more personalised assistance with grammar, as well as with more complex elements of academic writing, from the university’s Learning Skills Unit.

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