Tip Sheet: Using the Semicolon


EXPLANATION:


Some punctuation marks-- the semicolon, the comma, the dash, and the colon-- are used to join sentence elements. The semicolon is especially useful in joining independent clauses (groups of words which contain a subject and a verb) that are closely related in meaning. In certain instances, therefore, the semicolon is used in place of words to join sentence parts.
In general, semicolons are used to join independent clauses that are closely related in meaning but that are not connected by a conjunction (e.g., and, but, yet, or, for, nor).
Also, use a semi-colon before and a comma after a conjunctive adverb
(e.g., moreover, however, consequently, therefore, hence, then, thus).


EXAMPLES:



INSTEAD OF: The office desk you requested cost $675, a less expensive desk is being considered. (This sentence contains a comma splice .)


TRY: The office desk you requested cost $675; a less expensive
desk is being considered.

***

INSTEAD OF: The meeting will be held soon, we expect to accomplish
great things. (This sentence contains a comma splice .)

& INSTEAD OF: The meeting will be held soon we expect to accomplish
great things. (This sentence is a run-on sentence. )

TRY: The meeting will be held soon; we expect to accomplish
great things.

***

INSTEAD OF: I cannot attend the meeting, nevertheless, you should try
to resolve the major issues. (This sentence contains a
comma splice .)

& INSTEAD OF: I cannot attend the meeting; nevertheless you should try to
resolve the major issues.

TRY: I cannot attend the meeting; nevertheless, you should try to resolve the major issues.

***

Also, use a semi-colon between items in a series containing internal punctuation.

Classic science fiction sagas are Star Trek , with Mr. Spock and his large pointed ears; Battlestar Galactica , with its Cylon Raiders; and Star Wars , with Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Darth Vader.



EXERCISE:


Combine each set of sentences below into one sentence using semicolons to link independent clauses or to separate items in a series (you may have to add, delete, or rearrange words).

1. The noise - the bass guitarist upstairs, the disco music downstairs, the wailing car alarm on the street, the garbage truck in the alley - was deafening. It's said that such noise raises the heart rate and the blood pressure.

2. Fashion advertising is big business. Millions are spent every year in this country just on magazine ads.

3. We were very angry with the cousins for not telling us they were coming. Moreover, they stayed two weeks and never even helped with the dishes.

4. When you play college football, you may have a difficult academic career, which will hamper you in the future. You may have injuries, which will bother you for the rest of your life.

5. She bought a dark skirt, which had a slit up one side. She bought a handsome blazer, which matched the skirt perfectly. She bought a pale silk blouse. And she bought a dashing silk scarf with a delicately scalloped edge.

6. Turn left at the second stoplight. Drive twenty-three blocks until past the gas station, a row of burned out buildings, and a church. Then pull into the last driveway on the left.