Semi-Colon: Rules & Examples - Punctuation

Colons and semicolons are types of punctuation marks; they help speakers and writers to format clauses. Semi-colons, in particular, are often incorrectly used because they are pretty similar to colons. However, we'll delve into a few different uses here and give a semicolon list of examples.

Semicolons are the forgotten cousin; they are often overlooked because people don’t know how to use them. However, we hope you won’t forget to use this poor punctuation mark after this semicolon list guide!

semicolon list pun

Semicolon Grammar: Rules & Examples

( ; ) Semicolon

There are a few grammar rules to remember when using semicolons; let’s look into them now.

1) Only capitalize the word after a semicolon if the word is a proper noun, acronym, or for style purposes in a title.

  • These are my friends; I’ve known them since I was 4.
  • I’ve never been; London looks like a cool place to visit, though!
  • We could go to the cafe to work on the project; they have amazing brownies!

2) Semicolons are strong. Stronger than a comma but a little less powerful than a colon. They act as the conjunction in two independent sentences, so you don’t need to use conjunctions.

  • Let’s go to the library; I can’t study at home.
  • As she was passing the mall she saw her friend; she went towards him.
  • The sun was shining; Lucy decided to go to the beach.

3) Think of a semicolon as a short pause; they show the equal balance between clauses, whereas colons emphasize.

  • Could you buy me some things from the supermarket: cheese, milk, and bread? (Colon)
  • Could you buy me some things from the supermarket; I need cheese for tomorrow, milk for breakfast, and some bread for sandwiches. (Semi-colon)

Constructing Sentences With Colons

Are you fed up with using colons and periods? Well, let’s look into how you can use semicolons instead.

Listing

You can use semicolons in a list of words with lengthy explanations, extra information, or other types of punctuation.

  • I’d like to go to these places one day; London, England; Chicago, Illinois, United States; Istanbul, Tukey; Tokyo, Japan; Osaka, Japan; Goa, India.
  • He took me for ice cream in the morning; then we went to the cinema in the afternoon; after that, we decided to grab dinner; then I came home— wow, I’m tired!

When listing, semicolons work instead of conjunctions. You might be thinking, but why can’t I use a comma? Well, you can, but a semicolon is more appropriate when two or more phrases contain a lot of information.

Constructing Sentences With Adverb Conjunctions

Though it’s not necessary to use semicolons with conjunctions such as ‘or, and, or but,’ using adverb conjunctions and semicolons is always a good idea.

  • However
  • Moreover
  • Otherwise
  • Consequently

For example:

  • Sandy was told that moving to New York would be expensive; however, she decided her dreams were more important.

Formatting Independent Clauses

Like most punctuation marks, semicolons help us construct sentences related to independent clauses. Each independent sentence should be a complete clause that makes sense without the other one, but they must be closely related.

  • I didn’t go to the gym today; I’m way too tired.
  • She just bought a new top; she told me she couldn’t afford to go on holiday.
  • Andy is playing football; Marth is cooking.

If we used a comma in these sentences, we would get a comma splice. A comma splice is when two independent clauses are punctuated with a comma. In literature, comma splices are sometimes used to dramatize or bring a specific mood.

Quoting

Unlike commas and periods, semi-colons, dashes, and colons almost always go outside a quote.

  • The school board approved the teachers’ proposal of “having no significant impact on the budget”; they, however, didn’t approve their requests for more time off.
  • Sally reviewed the edits” promptly”; however, she wasn’t ready for the influx of requests.

Colon And Semicolons: Tips & Tricks

Since colons ( : )  and semicolons ( ; ) look pretty similar, let’s delve into their differences!

Colons

Colons are used to add a pause; they are made up of two periods, so think of them as a full pause.

They are used in the following situations and have some specific rules.

  • To give an explanation or example similar to this!
  • If a sentence fragment follows a colon, the first letter of the second clause doesn’t always need to be capitalized unless it’s a proper noun.
  • Check the grammar style you’re following, as there are a lot of different rules depending on the style guide you use.
  • If you read the sentence and it makes sense without the colon, get rid of it! If it doesn’t, keep it.

Semicolons

To wrap up, semicolons are used in the following situations and have some specific rules.

  • Use a semicolon when going into detail in a long list.
  • You don’t need to capitalize the first word after using a semicolon unless it’s a proper noun or acronym.
  • Always check the grammar style guide that you’re using when in doubt.
  • Use semicolons to link related ideas.
  • The semi-colon is also an emoticon– It’s a wink in popular culture!

And that’s the end of our love letter to the semi-colon; they are amazing, aren’t they?

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