LawProse Lesson #83

LawProse Lesson #83

What is the most frequent error involving the semicolon? ANSWER: Placing it after a salutation in a letter, as in “Dear Lon Fuller; . . . .” That is worse than semiliterate: it is a barbarism. Only two punctuation marks are allowable after a salutation: the colon (in formal business letters) and the comma (in informal letters and personal notes). Although it’s true that most uses of a semicolon are discretionary, this use is impermissible. For the legitimate uses of the semicolon, often considered the most highbrow punctuation mark, see these sources: Garner’s Modern American Usage 681-82 (3d ed. 2009); The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style 12-15 (2d ed. 2006); The Elements of Legal Style 21-22 (2d ed. 2002); Legal Writing in Plain English 150-51 (2001). All the LawProse seminars and webinars (
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