The Use of Semicolon

The Use of Semicolon

All students who practice writing essays should learn the proper use of semicolon. If students do not use it properly, the semicolon can make the paper content sound odd, weird, and confusing. Below, you can find a brief guide and suggestions meant to show how semicolon should be used.

The Reasons for Semicolon Use

A semicolon can be applied, when:

  • Unite two different sentences
  • Distinguish items in one list

The above explanation seems very simple, doesn’t it? However, it is not always that easy to understand what sentences can be joined by a semicolon. Therefore, students spend a lot of time surfing the Internet to find the answers and suggestions. Others pay a lot of money for unprofessional services. 

Learning to Use Semicolons

A semicolon can be used in a text if there is a need to join two independent clauses. One independent clause is considered a finished sentence. Different sentences are usually joined with semicolons, and they emphasize a connection.

Below is given an example of semicolon use in a sentence:

My father fell off a cherry tree. Fortunately, he did not get hurt.

In the given sentence, there are two independent clauses and a full stop separates them. However, in case the author wanted to stress how the first sentence is followed by the second one, a semicolon could be used:

My father fell off a cherry tree; fortunately, he did not get hurt.

How Semicolons Can Be Used in Lists

Remember that semicolons can be also used in long lists to separate the items clearly. It helps the readers to follow all the presented ideas and understand the author’s arguments and key points.

For instance:

After my father fell off a cherry tree and did not get hurt, he was taken care by all of our family members: me, my mom, and my brother; also, a grandma and a grandpa came to make sure that dad feels fine.

In the given example of a sentence, all of the relatives are separated with a semicolon, showing that they are separate names in the list. Again, it helps to demonstrate all involved people in the accident and its resolution and participation.

Remember that Semicolons and Conjunctions Are not the Same!

The purpose of conjunction is to unite the two clauses. However, if you have already used a semicolon in the sentences, then there is no need of also using conjunction (e.g. “and,” “but,” “or”). Instead of using conjunction, you can use a comma:

My father fell off a cherry tree, but, fortunately, he did not get hurt.

Other conjunctions can be separated with a semicolon, as long as those conjunctions are good to use when starting a sentence. The conjunctive adverb “however” is one of the examples, as the use of a semicolon supports the existing connection with the previous sentence:

My father fell of a cherry tree; however, he did not get hurt.

Hopefully, you found this article interesting and educative.


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