Wondering proper semicolon usage? The semicolon (;) is shrouded in mystery for many writers, but learning when to use one is actually quite simple. Unlike many other punctuation marks, the rules for semicolon use are fairly straightforward.
Use a semicolon to join two independent clauses.
In cases where two complete thoughts are related, a writer may choose to combine then into one complex sentence, rather than leave them as two separate sentences.
For example, rather than writing, "Some of the students prefer vanilla. The other students prefer chocolate," you may choose to write, "Some of the students prefer vanilla; the other students prefer chocolate."
Here are some other examples of semicolons used in this way:
Use a semicolon when a second clause in a sentence expands upon the first clause.
In cases where you wish to elaborate a bit on the first clause in a complex sentence, a semicolon can help.
Use semicolons in lists of items when commas are already present.
In order to avoid confusing the reader in very longs lists of items, writers can use semicolons to make things clear. This is particularly useful when the list of items contains commas already.
When used properly, semicolons can be quite useful in helping you to write complex sentences that will really enhance your writing.
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