A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Le point-virgule (Semicolon)

point-virgule
Let’s discuss the point-virgule, a punctuation sign that is as confusing in French as it is in English. Its usage in French tends to become rarer, but it remains a potent tool for anyone willing to clarify their style.

Is the point-virgule the addition of a point and a comma? Not really.
According to Doppagne (1), it is a punctuation mark that is worth more than a comma and less than a point, if that means anything to anyone.

Typically it is used in modern French writing in the following cases:

  • To separate long clauses where commas are already used. Some writers like long sentences and the point-virgule gives their readers an opportunity to breathe a bit.
  • To separate clauses that are independent of each other. It allows writers to keep in the same sentence elements that are loosely connected.
  • To separate the elements of an enumeration into higher logical grouping. The comma is used in this this case to separate the lower groupings.
  • To replace a comma, where the comma can be confusing, for example after a number (remember that the English decimal point is replaced by a comma in French).

Please note that the first letter of the word after a point-virgule is in lowercase (except if is a proper noun). Note also that when reading, the length of the pause on a point-virgule is intermediary between a point and a comma.

References:
(1) Doppagne, Albert, La bonne ponctuation, Duculot 1978
(2) Wikipedia, http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point-virgule

Comments are closed.