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6.7: Semicolons

  • Page ID
    100273
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    Use

    A semicolon introduces a pause greater than that of a comma but less than that of a period. This is a semicolon: ;

    To Clarify a Series
    Semicolons separate elements of a series when the items are long or when individual segments contain material that also must be set off by commas.
    • Example: She leaves a son, Mike Nach, of Arizona; a daughter, Emily Rosa, of Colorado; and a sister, Sara Evans, of Minnesota.
    To Link Independent Clauses
    A semicolon joins two independent clauses within one a sentence without the use of a coordinating conjunction.
    • Example: The horse was due for an immunization; the veterinarian administered one today.
    A semicolon may also be used if there is a Conjunctive adverb in the sentence.
    • Example: “I must go grocery shopping; however, I must pick up the dry cleaning today.”
    Placement with Quotes
    Semicolons should always appear outside quotation marks.
    • Example: Marcus often says that "people should remain true to their faith"; however, he is not a man of faith.

    Common Misuses

    Some examples of improper use of the semicolon:

    • Between a subordinate clause and the rest of the sentence. Example: Unless you are coming home before your curfew; don't bother coming home.
    • Between an appositive and the word to which it refers. Example: My favorite animal is a parakeet; a type of bird.
    • To introduce a list. Example: I own these cars; a Dodge Stealth, an Acura RSX, and a Geo Storm.

    6.7: Semicolons is shared under a CC BY-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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