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Grammar, Punctuation, and Style
2.9 Punctuation - Semicolon (;)

The semicolon is a cross between a period and a comma. It is sometimes used in place of a period; other times, it serves the same function as a comma.


  • Semicolon between main clauses
    Use a semi-colon between two main clauses if they are not separated by and, or, but, nor, for, yet, so, etc.
    Example: The rain stopped; the sun came out again.

  • Use a semicolon between two main clauses with conjunctions (e.g. and, or) if a comma is used in at least one of the main clauses.
    Example: Jack had to put lot of his problems aside; and not even his best friend, John, could help him.

  • Use a semicolon between two main clauses if the second one starts with an adverb that has to be enclosed in commas (e.g. however, in fact, therefore, nevertheless, moreover, furthermore, still, instead, for example, besides).
    Example: He didn't feel well; in fact, he had a very high temperature.

  • Semicolon with enumerations:
    Use a semicolon in enumerations if a comma is already used to further separate an item of the sequence.
    Example: We have business partners in Kansas City, Kansas; Denver, Colorado; Columbus, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia.

Directions: Write two examples for each of the semicolon usage rules described above. In the following questions, select if the sentences are punctuated correctly or incorrectly. As a homework, read a book and find and write at least three sentences containing semicolon.
Q 1: The florist arranged the flowers, he delivered the bouquet today.

Q 2: My uncle has a new motorcycle; I wish I were old enough to drive it.

Q 3: The room looks darker than usual; it needs more light.

Q 4: We have business partners in Chicago, Illinois; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Austin, Texas; and Detroit, Michigan.

Q 5: Because the party began at noon, we dropped Sally, Kim, Jill, and Cathy off at the store; they wanted to shop for a gift.

Q 6: I plan to visit my friends in Miami, Florida for the holidays; I may not be able to stay very long.

Question 7: This question is available to subscribers only!

Question 8: This question is available to subscribers only!

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