To use a semi-colon or not use one, that is the question Writing & Grammar

Hello everyone:

Today’s blog is a refresher course on the use of semi-colons. Please use them when you are connecting two independent clauses. That is, two complete sentences that are related in some way but which are fully competent to stand on their own.

My students have frequently utilized them at the most inopportune time. For example, they would have used one in this sentence. Sadly, one did not belong there; however, the one in this sentence is used quite nicely, if I say so myself.

Do not use a semi-colon where you need a comma. For example, some students use semi-colons with introductory phrases. They would have used a semi-colon instead of a comma in the sentence immediately preceding this one. That would have been a bad call.

You may use a semi-colon when you are listing a group of things but there is a comma in that list. An example of this is when you are writing an obituary (which I hope you won’t have to do anytime soon).  You would list the survivors as follows:

She is survived by her brother, John Gingelhimer Smith of Fort Worth, Texas; her sister Matilda Hortense  Smith of Washington, D.C.; and her father James Dooley Smith of Alexandria, Virginia.

Hope this helps!

Best,

Dr. Sheri


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Sheri Dean Parmelee has a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Regent University. She writes books on practical tips for people who become unexpectedly unmarried and is working on her second novel in a series of contemporary romance/suspense novels. She teaches at three colleges, working with students from freshmen to graduate students. Her hobbies include running 8 miles a day and reading biographies and fiction.

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