• Semi-colons link two independent clauses. The two clauses can be written as separate sentences. By using a semi-colon, the writer is suggesting a relationship between the two clauses, binding the sentences together rather than weakening them by using a period, which would disrupt the flow of the sentence (“Using Colons and Semi-Colons”).

Example: Ellen plans on applying to med-school; her hard work and dedication will determine her eligibility and acceptance into the program.

When omitting the semi-colon, the sentence can easily become a run-on. If replacing the semi-colon with a comma, the sentence will become choppy (Hairston, Ruszkiewicz, and Seward 503-504)

• Use semi-colons when connecting sentences with a conjunctive adverb (words such as: nevertheless, consequently, however)

Example: All good things come to those who wait; however, that does not imply that everything does not require a bit of hard work.

• Another use of the semi-colon is to separate items or phrases in a list (Hairston, Ruszkiewicz, and Seward 504).

Example: Some present day artists still possess that soulful voice once heard in legendary artists from the past. Some of these present day songs include Joss Stone’s “Breathe”; Alicia Keys’ “No One”; Lauryn Hill’s “Killing Me Softly”, and John Legend’s “Save Room”.

Important things to remember:
• Do not use semi-colons to link an independent clause with a dependent clause!
• Use a comma, not a semi-colon, to introduce quotations.
• Do not overuse the semi-colon. Doing so will only weaken each sentence’s meaning and overpower the overall paper.

Works Cited

Hairston, Maxine, John Ruszkiewicz, and Daniel E. Seward. SF Writer. 1999. 3rd ed. Upper

Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005.

UVic English Language Centre. 1999. 2 October 2007.


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