Chicago Style Workout 64: Semicolons

Semicolons; or, The Winking Mark

Semicolons, when they’re not winking at you, can be a useful punctuation mark. Some writers are fans of the mark; others could do without it. But whatever you think of semicolons, it can be helpful to know how they’re used.

Take the quiz to test your semicolon knowledge (and, perhaps, to learn more).

Subscribers to The Chicago Manual of Style Online may click through to the linked sections of the Manual (cited in most of the answers). (For a 30-day free trial of CMOS Online, click here.)

Note: Style guides sometimes disagree. Except for a few details that can be verified in standard dictionaries and encyclopedias and other readily available sources, the answers in this quiz rely on the information in the 17th edition of CMOS.

Chicago Style Workout 64: Semicolons

1. A semicolon between two independent clauses can usually be replaced by a
2. When a coordinating conjunction (e.g., and, but, or, so, yet) joins two independent clauses, a semicolon should never be used instead of a comma before the conjunction.
3. A “however” in the middle of a sentence should always be preceded by a semicolon.
4. Other than their use between independent clauses, semicolons are primarily useful as
5. Which of the following two novels features more semicolons?
6. According to the OED, which mark of punctuation was mentioned earlier in a published source?
7. In a back-of-the-book index, semicolons are used as separators between
8. Semicolons are more likely to appear in a bibliography or reference list for which field?
9. In Greek, a semicolon would signal
10. The first edition of The Chicago Manual of Style (1906) advised placing a semicolon before (inside) a closing quotation mark in the manner of a comma or a period.


Top image: Microsoft’s Segoe UI Emoji font rendering of Winking Face (eyes and eyebrows replaced for post with a Calibri semicolon rotated ninety degrees counterclockwise).

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