The KISS Grammar HomePage The KISS Workbooks Anthology
A Study in Punctuation, Ellipsis,
and Breaking the Rules
Based on "The Lagoon," by Joseph Conrad
Analyze the following sentences as you normally would, but pay special attention to Conrad's use of punctuation, especially the semicolon. In class, your teacher may have you discuss how Conrad bends the normal rules of punctuation.

1. Sounds hesitating and vague floated in the air round him, shaped themselves

slowly into words; and at last flowed on gently in a murmuring stream of soft 

and monotonous sentences.

2. Speak before both night and love are gone—and the eye of day looks upon 

my sorrow and my shame; upon my blackened face; upon my burnt-up heart.

3. It was a time of peace. A time of deer hunts and cock fights; of idle talks and

foolish squabbles between men whose bellies are full and weapons are rusty.

4. They brought news, too. Brought lies and truth mixed together, so that no 

man knew when to rejoice and when to be sorry.

5. She sat in the middle of the canoe with covered face; silent as she is now; 

unseeing as she is now—and I had no regret at what I was leaving because I 

could hear her breathing close to me—as I can hear her now.

6. There was no better paddler, no better steersman than my brother.

7. We ran our canoe on the white beach of a little bay close to a long tongue of 

land that seemed to bar our road; a long wooded cape going far into the sea.

8. Before I heard my brother fire the third shot I saw the shelving shore, and I 

saw the water again; the mouth of a broad river.