The Semicolon

  • Use a semicolon to join two independent clauses. In this case,
    a conjunction is unnecessary. The two independent clauses should be
    closely related.

    Isaac is a champion discus thrower; he holds the state record. (This is
    an acceptable use of the semicolon.)
    Isaac is a champion discus thrower; his dad is a baker. (This is an
    unacceptable use of the semicolon.)
    The concert was not just good; it was fantastic! (This is acceptable.)

  • Use a semicolon between a compound sentence’s clauses that are joined
    by certain transitional words. Use a comma after these transitional
    words and phrases. See the sample sentences below.

    accordingly in other words
    as a result indeed
    besides instead
    consequently meanwhile
    for example moreover
    for instance nevertheless
    furthermore otherwise
    however that is
    in fact therefore

    The new tools are great; besides, they were perfect gifts for Dad.
    Your dance score was one of the highest in this early competition;
    consequently, you will now move on to the next round.

  • Use a semicolon between items in a series—if the items in that series
    contain commas.

    This movie’s special people include Missy Swit, lead; Kate Lewis, director;
    Morty Mulis, producer; and Freida Ling, cinematographer.

  • To eliminate confusion, use a semicolon before the coordinating conjunction
    that joins two independent clauses.

    At the beach we collected shells, wood, and seaweed; and then we
    barbequed, walked the shore, and made a campfire.