When to use a semicolon

When to use a semicolon

When to use a semicolon?

When to Use a Semicolon One of the most common questions writers ask when they’re writing is When should I use a semicolon? or When shouldn’t I use one? Here are four rules that every writer should follow when deciding whether or not to use this punctuation mark in their work:
You can use semicolons in compound sentences.
You can use them in complex sentences.

What is a semicolon?

A semicolon is often used in sentences where the author wants to give more information about the sentence before it. For example, Let’s eat, Grandma. However, if the two sentences are related and could be joined with ‘and,’ you don’t need the semicolon. For example, It’s cold outside, and I am in my coat.

How to use a semicolon correctly?

The semicolon connects the two sentences with the same main subject and makes them flow more smoothly. It’s not used when discussing two different topics or if there is already punctuation between the sentences. For example, in this sentence, I went hiking yesterday. And It was fun; I would need a comma after yesterday and before it. In this sentence, I went hiking yesterday. It was fun; it would need no punctuation after yesterday or before. As both sentences have the same main subject: I went hiking.

When to Use a Semicolon: Tips and Tricks

One question that writers often face is when to use a semicolon. Semicolons are primarily used when two independent clauses are related but not quite enough for a sentence on their own. For example, They were shocked and puzzled; they didn’t know how the magic trick was done. Another use of the semicolon is in a list: of gold, silver, and bronze medals. The first reason one might choose not to use the semicolon would be if it already appears in the sentence before or after it appears, especially if there is no punctuation connecting them and other words separating them (such as commas). For example, We saw Alice’s horse yesterday.

Semicolons connect related independent clauses

A semicolon should be used only when you want to separate related clauses. It would help if you did not use it where only a comma would do or for linking items in a list. These two sentences show how the semicolon is used in the first sentence but not in the second:

-Simon eats with Daphne at school every day; he knows what she likes on her pizza. – Simon eats with Daphne at school every day, and he knows what she likes on her pizza.

To Separate Independent Clauses with the Conjunction And

Many people erroneously believe that the only time to use a semicolon is when there are two sentences in sequence separated by and. This isn’t correct. However; the most common occasion for using a semicolon is when you have two sentences in sequence separated by commas. So, for example, I was home; it was dark outside.

5 Ways To Use A Semicolon

Here are 5 ways to use a semicolon: 

  1. Use it between independent clauses when you want the reader to take an extra mental pause and give emphasis: I’m going on vacation, but first, I have so much work to do. 
  2. Use it when listing items or groups of items: Jeff bought milk, bread, eggs, and cheese; dinner will be ready soon! 
  3. Use it before certain conjunctions (specifically and, but, or, yet) when they need more emphasis than their punctuation alone can provide: He has finished his homework. However, he still needs to clean his room.
    Use it as part of a list when you want each element in the list to have its sentence. But would rather not start a new sentence for each item: Andrea’s favorite foods include spaghetti, tacos, bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, and anchovies on pizza. 
  4. And finally, use it at the end of a sentence that is very short if there is another thought that you want to add to this one: Andrea likes olives too!


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