Online College Courses for Credit



Author: Kathryn Reilly

    Introduce semicolons, why they are used, and how they are different from periods. 


    Explain how to use semicolons with conjunctive adverbs (e.g. however, therefore, unfortunately, etc.)


This packet should help a learner seeking to understand how to use correct punctuation and who is confused about how to use semicolons. It will explain standard rules for semicolons and why they are used. 

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The Semicolon: Not just a texting device ;)

The semicolon is a pretty cool punctuation mark, but it's often the most misunderstood! 

When you consider using a semicolon, remember that it's stronger than a comma, but weaker than a period.  The semicolon connects ideas within a sentence, whereas a period alerts the reader to a new idea.


The semicolon may be used in three scenarios:

1.  Use a semicolon to connect two independent clauses (complete sentences).


Ocean City is my favorite beach; I vacation there every summer.

In this sentence, Ocean City is my favorite beach and I vacation there every summer are complete sentences; however, because they are related as the second sentence provides details about the first, a semicolon can connect them. 


2. Use a semicolon to connect two independent clauses with a conjunctive adverb (word that indicates a relationship between two ideas).


Mary thinks that dogs are the best pets;  however , I think cats are the best!

In this sentence, however is the conjunctive adverb that indicates an opposite relationship between the two ideas.


3.  Use a semicolon to distinguish a list within a list.


I would like to travel to Woodstock, New YorkAustin, Texas; Annapolis, Maryland and San Francisco, California.

Without the semicolon in the above sentence, it would appear that you wanted to travel to eight different places instead of just four cities.

Source: Kathryn Reilly

The Semicolon PowerPoint

This PowerPoint presentation introduces the semicolon and provides examples of its use.

Source: Kathryn Reilly

Semicolon According to the Chicago Manual of Style

This interactive YouTube video introduces and provides examples of how and when to use a semicolon using animations.

Source: YouTube