Long Live the Semicolon and Why I Love it!

OK, so we all want to be somewhat popular, and it seems that my last article, “To Brace Or Not to Brace”, seems to have gotten a lot of attention, so, here goes my opinion on the popular semi-colon argument.  First, I’m not against any languages in particular, but I have found that I do better in ones that have semi-colons.  One of the features I really like is the ability to move my line returns anyplace I want, and to indent as I see fit.  Though the semi-colon does not guarantee I can do this, it certainly makes life easier.

So, what’s wrong with using tabs to signal nesting levels and dispense with semi-colons?  Well, for me, that is just too hard.  I always seem to mess up and my code stops working.  What about line continuations?  I just have to ask why?  Want to continue, just press the return key.  Not much else to remember.

In College, I learned a language called PL/1 (long forgotten) that required semi-colons.  I remember the compiler would constantly spit out errors saying “Maybe you have missed your semi-colon?”.  I use to find that very annoying, but now, that I’m a semicolon lover, I just happily type them at the end of each statement I want terminated.

There are dissenters however.  For example, the TheMightyFavog says “Let’s get rid of it.  Nobody knows how to use the thing anyway”.

Just my 2 cents.

About Peter Kellner

Peter is a software professional specializing in mobile and web technologies. He has also been a Microsoft MVP since 2007. In addition, he’s a multi-course video author at Pluralsight. To read more about Peter Kellner and his experience click here. For information about how Peter Kellner might be able to help you with your project click here.

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  1. David Lucke has a point, I am a VB.Net coder too and “;” is not required.

  2. David Lucke says:

    I’ve never been able to understand why the semicolon is loved so much. Its an extra character to type that performs no function. You’re already going to use a carriage return at the end of the line. Why isn’t that sufficient? Sure, you sometimes want to continue the same statement on a separate line because its so long, or something. But that’s fairly rare, so why not use a continuation character for that instead of requiring an extra character on every single line?

  3. I like the semi-colons too. All the languages, in which I’ve worked, are using ‘;’ for terminating a statement. the usage of ‘;’ gives me a logical break between more than one statement. if it’s not a ‘;’, i found it hard to understand the code.

  4. There are great examples (Python) of indentation usage instead of semicolons. Though, if your code is well-written it does not have many levels of indentation and this controversy is less important. 🙂

  5. I love those semicolons. So much so, I add them every time I have to write a bit of VB. VB doesn’t like them so much though;


  6. In College, I learned a language called PL/1 (long forgotten) that required semi-colons. I remember the compiler would constantly spit out errors saying “Maybe you have missed your semi-colon?”

    –> When learning Java for the first time in school, after knowing Visual Basic, those semicolons annoyed me so bad. Now I love them as well. It’s even hard to chat without ending every sentence with a semicolon;


  1. Helltime for October 26 « I Built His Cage says:

    […] fun post by Peter Kellner sings the praises of the semi-colon and indentation-neutral languages in general. I tend to agree. Dittohead programmers (yes we exist) […]


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