How To Use A Semicolon Accurately

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Let’s discuss a topic that individuals can get a bit judgemental about. No, it’s not politics; it’s grammar.

Maintain on! Don’t roll your eyes or make a mad sprint for the door. As a former English trainer, I understand how many individuals hate grammar. It’s stuffy guidelines a few language that is stuffed with contradictions and phrases that sound the identical however are spelled in another way — their, they’re and there, anybody?

One punctuation mark that offers even good writers hassle is the semicolon. This mix of a comma and a interval sits on the appropriate aspect of the “L” on our laptop keyboards, nearly mocking us and daring us to make use of it. However the semicolon usually will get missed as a result of utilizing it appropriately appears too difficult.  Immediately, we squash that delusion!

What Is The Semicolon’s Goal?

We’ve got a semicolon in our assortment of punctuation marks for a motive; primarily, it acts as an prolonged pause between two full concepts which can be normally linked ultimately.

Consider the semicolon as extra highly effective than the comma and having rather less energy than a interval. There’s a motive why the semicolon makes use of each of these symbols to create a model new one.


We sometimes use semicolons between two full ideas (referred to as impartial clauses by grammar nerds, as a result of they will stand on their very own with a topic and verb). As we learn, a interval signifies a full cease between these ideas.

A comma, alternatively, helps our mind take a quick pause as we learn by a single sentence. It may well set aside dependent clauses (ideas that aren’t full as a result of they don’t have a topic and a verb) used as descriptions and asides. The comma may even mix objects into an inventory. However it’s not proper for combining impartial clauses with no coordinating conjunction.

The semicolon is just like the bridge in between the comma and the interval. When used appropriately, it’s a helpful little image!


How To Use The Semicolon

Now that the whys of the semicolon are out of the best way, let’s have a look at learn how to use it appropriately. There are two main methods we use the semicolon in writing.

Use The Semicolon To Bridge Associated Unbiased Clauses

Keep in mind that the impartial clause is only a full thought with a topic and a verb (motion phrase). Listed below are two examples of impartial clauses:

  • I really like going to the seashore. The waves assist me to loosen up. 

Sure, we will use a interval between these statements. It’s grammatically right.

Nonetheless, they each discuss the identical subject and the second clause is just an extension of the primary one. So, use a semicolon to bridge them collectively.

  • I really like going to the seashore; the waves assist me to loosen up.

Discover how “the” doesn’t should be capitalized now? It has turn out to be a part of one sentence with the semicolon, so drop that capital letter.

Bear in mind: use the semicolon to solely join two associated concepts. It isn’t meant to be a blanket substitute for the interval.

You can even use a semicolon to exchange a comma and a conjunction (and, or, however, as a result of, and many others.) when they’re utilized in between two impartial clauses like this:

  • BEFORE: I noticed two canines strolling down the road, and so they had on blue leashes.
  • AFTER: I noticed two canines strolling down the road; that they had on blue leashes.

If you use the semicolon, drop the comma and the conjunction. The semicolon brings all of it collectively!

Use The Semicolon In A Serial Checklist

If you write an inventory that features a number of commas, reminiscent of one with cities and states, the semicolon is a lifesaver to maintain all of the objects straight. Right here’s an instance:

  • Sally wrote down her journey itinerary, which included the next cities: Toronto, Canada; London, England; Madrid, Spain; Paris, France; and Cairo, Egypt. 

The semicolon retains all these locations (and their commas) neatly organized and simple to learn.

With these straightforward suggestions, you’ll be a savvy semicolon consumer and impress the grammar nerds in your life together with your newfound experience.

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