Making Sense of English Grammar: The Semicolon

Never has a punctuation mark been so feared as the semicolon. Semicolons are an excellent choice for writing if you give them half a chance. Consider them super commas ready to do the heavy lifting a comma cannot.

When There Are Two or More Independent Clauses

If you are writing a short sentence, and you put another short sentence about the same topic behind it, you can use a semicolon. It's grammatical freedom like none other.

I enjoy using advanced punctuation; it really elevates my composition game.

Use a semicolon in place of a comma and a conjunction or an end mark to impress your friends and family.

When There is Internal Punctuation

Not all independent clauses are created equally. Use a semicolon when punctuation appears internally in a sentence. 

Lately, I've been feeling like my grammar is on point; I would like to flex my grammatical muscles with semicolons.

If a comma was used to separate these clauses, it would result in a comma splice. This is a perfect instance for a semicolon.

When There is a List of Items Separated with a Comma

Commas are wonderful for lists of small items, but sometimes writers need an option for lists of objects that contain commas within the list.

I have been to Houston, Texas; Seattle, Washington; and Lincoln, Nebraska.

I enjoy using semicolons in lists; using commas sparingly; and using proper grammar when I write.

Letting semicolons into your world will open up all kinds of possibilities. Use them with independent clauses, clauses with internal punctuation, and lists with commas. Go ahead and increase your composition skills today.

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Dave Child

Dave is the founder of, and has been building websites since the early 90s. He's one of those fortunate people who gets to do what he loves for a living.


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