Semicolons

Search...

Learn 1000s of English words with our vocabulary builder.

What Are Semicolons? (with Examples)

A semicolon (;) is a punctuation mark used:

(1) in complex lists
(2) when a slight break is preferable to new sentence, and
(3) before conjunctions (e.g., and, or, but) in certain circumstances.

When to Use Semicolons (Overview)

Below is an overview on when to use semicolons.

(1) Use semicolons in complex lists (i.e., when the list items themselves contain commas).

Semicolons can be used to outrank any commas which appear in list items. In this list, the list items are: Notice how each list item contains a comma. This is why commas are not used to separate the list items. It would be confusing. Semicolons are used to outrank the commas in the list items.

Not all list items have to have commas to justify using semicolons. Only one does. For example:

(3) You can use a semicolon before a conjunction

Often two sentences are merged into one using a coordinate conjunction (a word like and, or, but). For example: When the sentences themselves contain commas, you can outrank those commas by using a semicolon before the conjunction. This is not a common practice these days; but, if you think it will help your readers, you can use a semicolon before a coordinate conjunction.

WHAT IS PUNCTUATION?

What are apostrophes?
What are colons?
What are commas?
What are dashes?
What is ellipsis?
What are exclamation marks?
What are hyphens?
What is a full stop / period?
What are parentheses (i.e., brackets)?
What are questions marks?
What are quotation marks?
More about semicolons


Help Us To Improve English Grammar Lessons
Please tell us using this form.

See Also

Much more about using semicolons What is punctuation? What are apostrophes? What are colons? What are commas? What are dashes? What is ellipsis? What are exclamation marks? What are hyphens? What is a full stop / period? What are parentheses (i.e., brackets)? What are questions marks? What are quotation marks? What are semicolons?
Glossary of grammatical terms