When to Use a Semicolon

When to Use a Semicolon

A semicolon (;) is a punctuation mark that has two primary purposes:

  • Semicolons separate pieces in a posh checklist. As an example, The Council is created from ten contributors: 3 from Sydney, Australia; 4 from Auckland, New Zealand; two from Suva, Fiji; and one from Honiara, Solomon Islands.
  • Semicolons sign up for two carefully comparable impartial clauses. As an example, Taylor hates the Friday travel; platform 24 is all the time overcrowded.

In a prior article, ‘Tips on how to Use Colons Appropriately’, we mentioned how colons are used to introduce lists, upload additional data or create emphasis. Continuously colons and semicolons are incorrectly used interchangeably. They shouldn’t be; they every have a definite goal.

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The Macquarie Dictionary states that the semicolon (;) indicates ‘a extra distinct separation between portions of a sentence than that indicated via a comma’. It’s helpful to think about the semicolon on the subject of the pause it creates: an extended pause than a comma, however shorter than a complete forestall.

A semicolon has two primary makes use of: to enroll in carefully comparable impartial clauses, and as a mega-comma of varieties. This text will speak about the primary use, and the following, ‘The use of Semicolons in Complicated Lists’, will give an explanation for the second one. We actually have a video explaining find out how to use semicolons should you would favor to be informed in regards to the subject that means.

What’s an Impartial Clause?

A semicolon is used to convey two impartial clauses in combination. Merely put, an impartial clause (often known as a prime clause) is a standalone sentence. It expresses an entire concept and accommodates a subject matter and predicate.

An impartial clause doesn’t should be lengthy. It may well be as brief as ‘Jesse ran’ or ‘Lesley cried’.

The use of a Semicolon to Attach Comparable Impartial Clauses

Chances are you’ll be mindful from ‘Tips on how to Use Colons Appropriately’ that the remark earlier than a colon wishes as a way to serve as as a standalone sentence. That is true for right kind semicolon utilization too.

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Alternatively, when the use of a semicolon, the section after the punctuation mark additionally wishes as a way to serve as as a standalone sentence. A semicolon is used to convey two comparable sentences in combination to intensify their connectedness.

Within the instance under, you’ll be able to see {that a} complete forestall (often known as a length) is keeping apart the 2 sentences:

Jesse can’t stay up for the weekend. She loves going to the seaside in sizzling climate.

To make those two sentences appear extra hooked up—and indicate that Jesse can’t stay up for the weekend as a result of she is making plans to visit the seaside—a semicolon may well be used.

With the overall forestall above, the instance reads like two unrelated concepts. Alternatively, within the following instance, the semicolon creates a courting between the 2 concepts:

Jesse can’t stay up for the weekend; she loves going to the seaside in sizzling climate.

The use of a Semicolon to Steer clear of a Comma Splice

Two impartial clauses (as within the instance above) will have to simplest be joined with a semicolon to create a posh sentence. The use of a comma as an alternative is a grammatical error known as a comma splice. That is an instance of a comma splice:

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Donning his hat, he walked to the door, he would by no means see Tommy once more.

The primary comma is used appropriately as it connects the dependent clause ‘donning his hat’ with the primary impartial clause ‘he walked to the door’. The second one comma will have to get replaced with a semicolon as a result of it’s supposed to hyperlink a 2d carefully comparable impartial clause.

Donning his hat, he walked in the course of the doorway; he would by no means see Tommy once more.

He would by no means see Tommy once more; donning his hat, he walked in the course of the doorway.

Averting the Improper Use of a Semicolon

The trick for the use of a semicolon appropriately is discreet: there will have to be standalone sentences on each side of the semicolon punctuation mark. Keep in mind that a semicolon is used to create a courting. The 2 sentences will have to now not be utterly unrelated or the punctuation mark is getting used incorrectly, as is proven within the following instance:

The Top Minister celebrated her victory; I like swimming and netball.

A great way to test if you’re the use of the semicolon appropriately is to peer if a complete forestall would paintings within the semicolon’s position.

Please learn the following article, ‘The use of Semicolons in Complicated Lists’, to be informed how semicolons can be utilized along commas to create readability in advanced lists.

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