The Pesky Semi-colon

Talking with other authors, I realized that few of them knew the correct usage for the semi-colon.

I admit it has long been a struggle for me, too.

The internet is the “go-to” place for valuable information on thousands of topics, so that’s where I went to learn about it’s use.

Here’s what I found:  

  1. The semicolon is used to join two independent clauses instead of using a conjunction such as and. The group of words that comes before the semicolon should form a complete sentence, and the group of words that comes after the semicolon should form a complete sentence as well. The two sentences must share a close, logical connection. An example would be: Paul bought Brittany flowers for her dance recital; Sam gave her a pearl necklace.

2.  A semicolon should be followed by a capital letter only if the word is a proper noun or an acronym.

For instance, Billy bought a baseball with his allowance; Shawn purchased a skateboard.

3.  You can use semicolons to divide the items of a list if the items are long or contain internal

punctuation. The semicolon helps readers keep track of the divisions between items. For example:

Juan’s plan for his date with Felicia was to visit the county library; skate at the pond; and drink hot

cocoa at the neighborhood cafe. 

4.  When using a conjunctive adverb (such as finally, nonetheless, moreover, however, therefore,

otherwise, likewise, then, and consequently) to link two independent clauses, use a semicolon.

     An example is: I wanted to go for a walk with Robert; however, I also planned to go skating with

     Albert.

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