I have to confess to being afraid of punctuation and in particular the use (or misuse) of colons and semi-colons. I think I must have been absent from school or not paying attention when we were being taught how, when and where to use them. I so envy my blogfriends who use them with such apparent ease. Perhaps there are simple 'rules' I should learn?
Some joker once observed that the semicolon is "a comma that has gone to college." Maybe that explains why so many writers try to avoid the mark: too highfalutin, they think, and a little old fashioned to boot. As for the colon--well, unless you're a surgeon, that one sounds downright scary.
Use a semicolon to separate two main clauses not joined by a coordinating conjunction:
Those who write clearly have readers; those who write obscurely have commentators.
We can also use a semicolon to separate main clauses joined by a conjunctive adverb (such as however, consequently, otherwise, moreover, nevertheless):
A great many people may think that they are thinking; however, most are merely rearranging their prejudices.
Basically, a semicolon (whether followed by a conjunctive adverb or not) serves to coordinate two main clauses.
Use a colon to set off a summary or a series after a complete main clause:
It is time for the baby's birthday party: a white cake, strawberry-marshmallow ice cream, and a bottle of champagne saved from another party.
Notice that a main clause does not have to follow the colon; however, a complete main clause generally should precede it.
Can anyone give me some simple tips on this matter?