• The semi-colon is often used to join together two independent clauses -- in other words, it joins two clauses that could be sentences. For example: Mary drives a Mercedes; Joanne drives a Chevrolet. These two clauses could be separate sentences: "Mary drives a Mercedes. Joanne drives a Chevrolet." However, when we use a semi-colon, we are usually suggesting that there is a relationship between the sentences, but we are not making that relationship clear. Usually, you can tell from the context what the relationship is. In the example above, the relationship is probably CONTRAST; we could also use "but" to make this clear: "Mary drives a Mercedes, but Joanne drives a Chevrolet." When we use a semi-colon, it is often because we want to make the reader think about the relationship for herself. This is useful in many situations, such as when writing cautiously, ironically, or humorously. One more very common use of the semi-colon is to join two clauses using a transition such as however, therefore, on the other hand, etc. Here are some examples: She works all day in a store; in addition, she takes classes in the evenings. John is Canadian; however, he lives in the United States.
  • Alatea's answer is correct as far as it goes, but there is a further use for the semi-colon. In current usage, it separates items in a long or complex list instead of commas where those commas might not clearly differentiate the items. Example: There were many people who attended the function, among them : John and Mary Smith; Steve Canyon, the director of the charity which is benefitting from the fundraising; Amy Loveheart, whose brother Bill was the host; Abby, Jennifer and Larry Hilton; and four members of the Ladies' Auxiliary: Sarah Bolton, Edith Cavell, Julie Prentiss and Molly Malone. Using only commas would make the list sound awkward and seem to go on forever. -- Jodie, I believe that your suggestion is probably good; I have corrected the list. TY & Merry Christmas.
  • There is little in here that is new or unique. The most recent answer called for semicolons in series that were long and potentially confusing; however, the examples showed series with internal commas. The first answer called for semicolons with transitions. The rule is \"conjunctive adverbs\" (however, thus, etc (not sure about \"therefore.\" The first two answers may be easier to understand, but they leave a little wiggle room for mistakes to occur without violating what they have said. The following is quoted from something that I wrote previously on the subject and has been fairly well circulated over the last year. There are several rules that govern semicolon placement: Use a semicolon between closely related independent clauses not joined by a coordinating conjunction: \"I went to the store; it was closed.\" Use a semicolon between independent clauses linked with a transitional phrase or conjunctive adverb: \"I like to ride horses; however, they don't like to be ridden by me.\" Use a semicolon between items in a series containing internal punctuation: \"There are several Waffle Houses in Atlanta, Georgia; Greenville, South Carolina; Pensacola, Florida; and Mobile, Alabama.\" A semicolon can be used to separate independent clauses that are joined by coordinating conjunctions when the clauses have internal commas that might lead to misreading: \"After the game, I won a red beanie baby, four edible ingots, and a certificate of excellence; but when the storm came, I lost it all in a torrent of sleet, snow, and profanity.\" Semicolons are always placed after closing quotation marks and are never followed by an uppercase letter, unless that letter begins a proper noun. jz
  • To join 2 separate sentences as one without using a conjunction such as and.
  • To separate a sentence and a related sentence. It's like the halfway point between a full stop and comma. I'll use it in an example. The night was cold and damp; in the dusk of evening, the rain fell in torrents.
  • When taking a dump.
  • Are you trying to get a semi into a colon? It won't all.
  • The simplest way to look at it is a period. It brings together two complete stand alone sentences that just happen to be closely related. She loved the Coach handbag so much she bought five; the store carried the bag in black, brown, grey, red and white.
  • If Mr. Smith has had gastric surgery, the proper way to address him is "Dear Mr. Smith (semi-colon):

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