It Is a Punctuation Tool…Not a Winking Face ;-D

Posted: December 3rd, 2013, 4:01 pm   By: brittany.corners

Semi-colons, colons and dashes have confused writers, novice and professional alike, for decades. So, to begin, do not feel alone if you belong to this club of confusion. Here is a brief summary of proper uses for semi-colons. It benefits you to read the rules for each type of punctuation separately; this way you do not confuse each of their uses again.

  1. Semi-colons separate two independent clauses that do not have connector words, when the two clauses are equally important and when the second clause restates the first one. – e.g. I have one son; his name is Izaiah. This use helps reduce a choppy feeling that strung, yet related, sentences gives in the writing. (A side note, if the second clause needs more emphasis than the first, you should separate them with a colon).
  2. Semi-colons also separate two independent clauses that have conjoining adverbs such as however, therefore, thus, etc. – e.g. I have one son; however, I would love to have at least one more. Again, this is less abrupt than a period separating them.
  3. Semi-colons replace commas in a series of items that contain commas within themselves. – I have lived in Redlands, CA; Kansas City, MO; San Antonio, TX and Seville, Spain.

As is usually the case (and purpose) with punctuation, the semi-colon reduces the confusion that a comma would provide in this type of sentence.

That is pretty much it as far as semi-colons go; they are simple and clear. Feel free to refer back here anytime you cannot decide which punctuation tool to use.