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3.3: Semi-Colon

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    The two primary uses of the semi-colon are to connect two closely-related sentences and to separate items in a list in which commas are used:

    • My father majored in economics; my mother majored in biology.
    • The band’s tour included stops in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Detroit, Michigan; Seattle, Washington; and Austin, Texas.

    The main use of the semi-colon is to connect closely-related sentences for more effective presentation of material. This is done in two ways. The easiest is to take two sentences, which will probably be next to each other anyway, and replace the period with a semi-colon. Make the next letter lower case, but avoid conjunctions like “and, but, for, so, yet, nor” with the semi-colon. It wants to do everything!

    • I have to get to Macy’s; that sale on raincoats won’t last forever.

    There is a type of sentence writers use frequently, the kind of sentence that says one thing (It’s a nice day.) but in the middle, adds some information that alters the meaning. (However, the forecast says rain.):

    • It’s a nice day; however, the forecast says rain.

    Readers like this construction. It lets them know that the writer is looking for exact description.

    The semi-colon is also a great cure for the run-on sentence. To place the semi-colon correctly, you need a complete thought on both sides of it. The semi-colon likes for things to be equal:

    • Michigan is beautiful in the fall; however, its winters are miserable.
    • Her phone bill rose; her grades plummeted.

    This page titled 3.3: Semi-Colon is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Frost & Samra et al..

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