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Humanities LibreTexts

10.10: Semicolons, once and for all

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  • The rule for using a semicolon is easy: use it in place of a period, but the sentences (or independent clauses! Remember those?) connected by a semicolon must be logically or thematically related in some way.

    YES: Shadi went to the movie by herself; she had a good time.

    NO: Shadi went to the movie by herself; it’s a sunny day in the neighborhood.

    YES: Alfonso is a great dancer; he swings his arms like nobody’s business.

    NO: Alfonso is a great dancer; the green bean casserole needs to get thrown out.

    Here’s another rule for semicolons: use them instead of commas to separate items in a list if the items in the list have commas in them. What? Here’s an example:

    Dachshunds have several interesting traits, such as short, powerful legs; a territorial bark; a long, low body; and the adorable, sometimes annoying devotion to a single owner.

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