• Frozzie@lemmy.world
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    7 months ago

    So you’re saying I can use the semicolon in a different context other than ending an instruction in my Java code ?

      • Flying Squid@lemmy.world
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        7 months ago

        What about Applesoft BASIC? Because I was pretty good at that on my Apple II, but I don’t think there were semicolons.

        Also, I don’t know how to code, so I don’t know what semicolons are for in code.

        • SpaceNoodle@lemmy.world
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          7 months ago

          BASIC statements end on new lines. The language does use a semicolon at the end of PRINT statements in order to omit printing a newline character at the end, but I believe that’s the only use. (It’s been about 20 years since I’ve done anything in BASIC.)

          The meaning of a semicolon depends completely on the language. C and C-like languages (like Java and Rust) tend to use them to delimit the end of a statement.

    • Heavybell@lemmy.world
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      7 months ago

      You can also use them to split lists where the items have commas in them. Like if you’re saying you’re holding a party and you invited A, whom you dislike but would feel bad to exclude; B, who you’ve not seen in years and really want to catch up with; and C, who is also going to be there.

  • Gnome Kat@lemmy.blahaj.zone
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    7 months ago

    My 2c is that if the majority of people are confused about the purpose of a punctuation mark or language feature in general, then that feature is not actually fulfilling a useful function. If it was actually useful then people wouldn’t be confused, they would just be using it. People would learn it organically and not need it to be explained.

    That example sentence would function exactly the same if it was separated by a period, nothing is gained by using a semicolon. No new information is added, you are just going to make people wonder why there is a semicolon there making the sentence less comprehensible.

    Its sorta related to the prescriptivism vs descriptivism distinction.

    • LogarithmicCamel@feddit.uk
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      7 months ago

      That example sentence would function exactly the same if it was separated by a period; nothing is gained by using a semicolon. No new information is added; you are just going to make people wonder why there is a semicolon there making the sentence less comprehensible.

      FTFY. You aren’t supposed to separate two independent clauses with a comma.

    • Snazz@lemmy.world
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      7 months ago

      I occasionally use semicolons. They can help with parsing; finding a semicolon instead of a period may signify that the next expression is a continuation and expansion of the previous statement.

      • 🇰 🔵 🇱 🇦 🇳 🇦 🇰 ℹ️@yiffit.net
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        7 months ago

        They separate different clauses that don’t necessarily have to be two separate sentences. It can be used in place of a comma where you would follow with but, and, or, nor, for, so and yet.

        I have a shirt, but it is itchy.

        I have a shirt; it is itchy.

      • 🔍🦘🛎@lemmy.world
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        7 months ago

        It’s not some kind of linguistics witchcraft 😬 of course some people know how to use them and some don’t.

        I have no idea why comments like yours are prevalent here; imma head out.

    • AnUnusualRelic@lemmy.world
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      7 months ago

      OTOH, a lot people are also confused by vowels that sound vaguely similarly.

      People get confused pretty easily.

    • CreateProblems@corndog.social
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      7 months ago

      So you also use a semicolon if you are separating a list and the list includes phrases separated by commas. For example:

      My favorite things are lions, tigers, and bears; sugar, spice, and everything nice; and the ol’ red, white, and blue.

      I came up with that in thirty seconds so admittedly it’s a bit nonsensical, but there are valid reasons to structure a sentence this way and a semicolon is the only thing helping those independent phrases stay separate and thus help the sentence make sense.

      That said, I love semicolons in general; I use them for fun and for variety. They are useful for slightly adjusting the pacing of written communication, since the reader won’t treat them exactly the same as a full stop.

      If it was actually useful… People would learn it organically and not need it to be explained.

      People don’t learn how to read and write “organically;” you need instruction. Learning how to use punctuation is a part of that instruction. You learned how to use a comma or a period way back in elementary school, you just don’t remember specifically learning it. And a semicolon is a perfectly useful piece of punctuation.

  • timelighter@lemmy.world
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    7 months ago

    “Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.”

    Kurt Vonnegut

      • Sneezycat@sopuli.xyz
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        7 months ago

        “If you want to take my guns away from me, and you’re all for murdering fetuses, and love it when homosexuals marry each other … you’re a liberal. If you are against those perversions and for the rich, you’re a conservative. What could be simpler?”

        -Kurt Vonnegut

        Yeah it looks like the dude had some issues to say the least…

        • timelighter@lemmy.world
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          7 months ago

          That’s not his views… that’s from an essay where he’s parodying the mainstream ultrasimplification of political alignment.

          https://inthesetimes.com/article/cold-turkey

          You left out some language that I think clears up his ironic tone:

          If you want to take my guns away from me, and you’re all for murdering fetuses, and love it when homosexuals marry each other, and want to give them kitchen appliances at their showers, and you’re for the poor, you’re a liberal.

          If you are against those perversions and for the rich, you’re a conservative.

          What could be simpler?

          Totally changes it, doesn’t it?

          • Sneezycat@sopuli.xyz
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            7 months ago

            Oh, interesting. To be fair, Wikipedia left it out (not me), I was actually trying to check if the dude was a bigot or just 200iq ironic.

            Still not convinced it’s the latter though.

            • timelighter@lemmy.world
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              7 months ago

              I’ve read 12 of Vonnegut’s books. He is fundamentally a social progressive, but there are also some moments in some 70s novels (particularly Breakfast of Champions) that I find homophobic. He also has a habit of making women either passive pleasers or full nutso.

              But he also explicitly and repeatedly pushes kindness, egalitarian social justice, and willingness to change.

              I highly highly recommend every human read Mother Night.

        • Chriswild@lemmy.world
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          7 months ago

          To me it felt like they implied going to college is a bad thing. I didn’t expect them to have a shred of metacognition after that.

      • Flying Squid@lemmy.world
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        7 months ago

        He was born in 1922, so that’s not really surprising. Almost no one born that long ago wouldn’t have those bigotries.

        I’m not trying excusing it. I’m just not surprised.

  • Malle_Yeno@pawb.social
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    7 months ago

    They’re also useful for separating multiple lists when using a comma would make it look like an item is an extended list.

    So let’s say I want to express:

    "My contacts are:

    • Jessica, Cook (as in a job title, not a name)

    • James, MD (as in the professional certification, not the name ‘MD’)

    • Doug, ABC (maybe to show that Doug works at ABC)"

    If I said:

    “My contacts are Jessica, Cook, James, MD, Doug, ABC.”

    There’s no clear indication of what is a list member and what is a new list. But this:

    “My contacts are Jessica, Cook; James, MD; Doug, ABC.”

    is a bit clearer. (There are probably better examples but I’m shooting from the hip here lol)

  • Dettweiler@lemm.ee
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    7 months ago

    They can also be used as a super comma; because sometime you make a longer sentence, or a sentence with complex clauses.

    • Cagi@lemmy.ca
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      7 months ago

      It’s more of a weak period than a strong comma; both sides of it need to be complete sentences.

    • Coolishguy@lemmy.world
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      7 months ago

      I’m sorry, but the example in your comment is nonstandard usage. The part after the semicolon would typically be an independent clause, whereas the “because” marks yours as a dependent clause.

      There are still comma-like uses though. The major one I can think of is as a separator in a list where each element is long, possibly containing commas of its own.

    • Psythik@lemmy.world
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      7 months ago

      You didn’t quite get it right; adding “because” removes the need for a semicolon. Take out that single word, and your sentence becomes proper.

  • dQw4w9WgXcQ@lemm.ee
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    7 months ago

    They are also a great tool to use in place of tabs or spaces to make java developers lose their minds.

  • Psythik@lemmy.world
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    7 months ago

    As someone who uses them all the time, I don’t understand why people struggle with semicolons; they’re not a difficult concept to comprehend.

  • Solinus 🌿@lemmy.cafe
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    7 months ago

    em dash supremacy—my friend introduced me to this and i haven’t looked back since.

    alt+0151 on PC, ctrl+alt+minus for word if I remember right. On mobile you go to more symbols, hold down the minus, and slide to the longest one.

    Both require numeric keypad though- but using a minus and a space after can work as a substitute--as well as 2 minus signs (plus Lemmy happens to convert that to an em dash) - but like THAT? treason. absolutely not.

    You can even join more than 2 independent clauses together as shown above.

    • Sheridan@lemmy.world
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      7 months ago

      On Mac and iPad it’s option-shift-hyphen.

      Also there’s the en-dash (option-hypen on Mac/iPad), which is slightly shorter: –

      The en-dash is meant for ranges of numbers, e.g., 1990–2023, although some use it like an em-dash.

    • dave@feddit.uk
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      7 months ago

      Also en-dash for separating two numbers when indicating a range. I have AHK shortcuts for them both :).

    • yukijoou@lemmy.blahaj.zone
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      7 months ago

      on fr-oss, it’s shift+altgr+4 or 5, i believe… also don’t forget the non-breaking spaces around it when typing french!

    • Zachariah@lemmy.world
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      7 months ago

      (in standardized English) No, you can’t make them into a star with the semicolon in the center. Sentences are linear, so you can only connect two clauses at a time with one semicolon between them. However, you can chain clauses together, each time using a semicolon to join two independent clauses.

      Except language changes over time, so if the star usage of the semicolon catches on and introduces nonlinear sentences, then have at it.

  • johnyrocket@feddit.ch
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    7 months ago

    DELIMITER //

    SELECT name, definition

    FROM definitions

    WHERE name like ‘;’//

    DELIMITER ;

  • Smorty [she/her]@lemmy.blahaj.zone
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    7 months ago

    You people don’t use semicolons; I am very surprised. For real though, I like to use the in German class, as it makes me seem fancy and knowledgeable.