Semicolon Usage (;)

Proper semicolon usage tends to be one of the more difficult punctuation items in the English language, though it really needn't be.

To understand how the semicolon is used... simply keep reading. What follows should clear up any difficulties you may have had in the past.

The semicolon (;) is literally one of those 'in between' items.

It might help to think of it as a soft full stop, or a hard comma.

Whereas full stops (also know as periods) separate two sentences and commas separate two phrases, the semicolon provides separation in a two-part statement without using the connecting conjunctions and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet.

Compare:

Full stop usage:

  • I like Carla. I think she's cute.

Comma usage:

  • I like Carla, and I think she's cute.

Semicolon use:

  • I like Carla; I think she's cute.


The semicolon can also be used to join two independent clauses with a conjunctive adverb like: however, therefore, moreover, consequently, nevertheless, otherwise, etc.
  • I like Carla; moreover, I think she's cute.

One other semicolon use, though not seen as often, is between items in a series containing internal punctuation.

Example:

There are several Exxon stations in Thessaloniki, Greece; Sofia, Bulgaria; Vienna, Austria; and Zurich, Switzerland.

For more information on semicolon usage and other punctuation items, click on the preceding link. More material is soon to be posted.

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