Online College Courses for Credit

Semicolons Rule!

Semicolons Rule!

Author: Jill Walter

    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. 

See More

How semicolons are different than periods and commas

Listen to this audio to find out how semicolons should be used.

Source: Jill Walter

Semicolon Rules!


Semicolons rule because they are strong punctuation.  They are not, however, as strong as a period or other endmark like a question mark or exclamation point.  They do not have the power to end a sentence, but they can combine sentences or independent clauses.  Semicolons are more powerful than a comma because commas can never combine sentences and be grammatically correct.  

  1. Strongest punctuation - periods, question marks, exclamation points
  2. Strong punctuation - semicolons
  3. Weak punctuation - commas

These are the three basic rules of semicolons:

Semicolon Rules:

1. Use a semicolon in place of the comma and conjunction to separate the two independent clauses in a compound sentence.

Example: I like working outside; I also enjoy reading.


2. Use a semicolon before the conjunctive adverb (such as however and therefore) that joins two independent clauses. Be sure to put a comma after the conjunctive adverb.

Example: I like working outside; however, I also enjoy reading.

*however is the conjunctive adverb.


3. Use semicolons to separate elements in a series if they contain internal punctuation.

Example: On his fishing trip, Jeff caught rainbow, brook, and lake trout; large-mouth, small mouth, and white bass; and a few northern pike.

Source: Jill Walter

More examples of semicolon rules and how to use them

Look a bit more closely at the rules and see if you can come up with some of your own sentences while learning about semicolons.

Source: Jill Walter

How to use semicolons with conjunctive adverbs

Listen to find out how to use semicolons with conjunctive adverbs. Remember to always follow the rules!

Source: Jill Walter