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Saturday, April 21, 2012



It is a form of punctuation that looks like this: ;

Semicolons are versatile little pieces of punctuation that can be used to enhance one's writing, when not overused. Semicolons function to join two clauses or to separate items in lists. A semicolon indicates a moderate pause, as opposed to a period, which calls for a complete stop, or a comma, which warrants a brief pause.

1) Use a comma when joining two independent, complete sentences with a conjunction (and, or, but, yet, nor, so, for). Use a semicolon when joining them without a conjunction. The most often used conjunctions are .
     For example: Edwayne ate chicken livers for dinner; he ate brains and eggs for breakfast.

2) Use semicolons between items in a series when each item contains a comma.
     For example: She thought of escaping to Honolulu, Hawaii; Mulholland, Massachusettes; Nowhere, New Mexico.

3) A semicolon precedes a conjunction joining two sentences when the first sentence contains a comma.
     For example: While heat rose in watery waves from the pavement, she pressed the accelerator; but, she felt nothing as the car passed through what she had always thought of as a barrier.

4) Use a semicolon between the first and second sentence when the second sentence begins with an introductory word (however, nonetheless, therefore, thus, namely, etc.).
     For example:  She felt like nothing could stop her now; nonetheless, sirens wailed somewhere in the distance.

5) Consider This! Do NOT use a semicolon to join two sentences that have no relationship to each other. Semicolons give impact to sentences that either express opposing ideas or that have strongly related ideas.
     For example:  Backing out the driveway on Thursday, she hit the mailbox and knocked the rearview mirror off of the car; it was no great loss. She had no plans to get it fixed. The Alabama border was calling her onward.

This A to Z stuff is wearing me out; a nap is in order. I used a semicolon there because I needed a moderate pause. I might be tired, but I don't plan to stop. Period.

Tomorrow: Then v. Than
This post is brought to you by the April A to Z Blog Challenge. Check back all through April for daily discussions of writing conventions.


Betty Alark said...


I like using the semicolon!

That's for the reinforcement of when to use it!

Hope your day is going well! Enjoy!

Dana said...

Great post! I liked the paragraph about needing a nap. :)

Jo said...

I've never been too certain about semi colons and use them rarely. This helps, thanks. Enjoy your nap LOL

Sarah said...

I'm terrible when it comes to using semicolons and I'm always suspicious when MS Word tells me I should be using one. Thanks for this useful information. It makes things a lot clearer.

Sarah @ The Writer's Experiment

Janna said...

I love the semicolon. I think I use it correctly, for the most part. #3 was very helpful, I'm not sure I was aware of that rule. Enjoy your day off from the challenge.

Laura Marcella said...

Hello, Lucy! The semicolon is so sweet; it's like two sentences holding hands. :) It's my favorite punctuation mark!

Hope you're having a lovely weekend and happy A to Z!

Wendy said...

I wish I hadn't read the preview to Then vs Than; my blood is starting to boil.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lucy - I was use the ; today correctly, but wanting to separate the info in the blog post - I do it all wrong, but it sort of works!

Cheers - now I must go and see the intro to then and than .. I obviously missed something .. Hilary

William Kendall said...

I make a fair amount of use of those!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lucy .. then I see what I was typing was gibberish!

Anyway I'm back to read through and sometime I'll go back over the whole lot - there's a whole lotta grammar going on here ..

Cheers Hilary

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