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5 Tips for Using Semicolons Properly

using semicolons properly

If you want to improve your writing skills, it is imperative that you utilize all the writing tools at your disposal. One such tool is the semicolon. To the less experienced writer out there, the semicolon might seem like a complete unknown.

In layman’s terms, the semicolon is written as a period stacked on top of a comma. The most basic use of semicolons is to connect two independent clauses without using conjunctions. Aside from this, there are other ways to use semicolons. Here are 5 tips for using semicolons properly.

1. They link closely related topics

One of the most effective ways to use a semicolon is to link two closely related topics to one another. While two separate sentences could stand by themselves, they will still be more effective if they are linked together by a semicolon.

Examples:

· John loves the martial arts; he practices it every day.

· Tony dabbles in criminal activity; he is the head of the Gambino family

· Jenny is a great tennis player; her backhand shot is her best move.

· Tina is a smart and successful lawyer; her list of clients is extensive.

2. You could use the semicolon in a serial list

Semicolons are very efficient in separating items in a serial list. They are usually used in sentences that have an already existing list that uses commas. In order to avoid any confusion, you could use a semicolon to make another list.

Examples:

· The weapon’s rack had all sorts of implements of war: long, sharp claymores; compact, balanced hand axes; and all sorts of spears for hunting.

· The candy shop had a wide array of chocolate: creamy, sweet milk chocolates; textured, gooey caramel chocolates; and a lot of pure dark chocolates.

· There were a number of fruits in the pantry: tart, crispy pears; fresh, sweet strawberries; and a wide variety of apples.

· The feast had a lot of dishes to choose from: wide, deep pots of oyster stew; juicy, medium rare steaks; and many kinds of breads to choose from.

3. They are great to use with conjunctive adverbs

Conjunctive adverbs are adverbs that connects two clauses. The clause being introduced into the sentence is converted into an adverbial modifier of the verb. These adverbs work perfectly with semicolons. Some common examples of conjunctive adverbs are nevertheless, however, finally, and therefore.

Examples:

· I needed to get water for the wounded; also, I need to find food for them.

· I don’t really like chocolates; however, I will eat the ones my crush gave me.

· The men were against going into the forest; however, their friends needed them.

· The young woman thought she was the center of the universe; indeed, she was quite self-centered.

· The old man did not like visitors; indeed, he was quite a cantankerous man.

· I did not like hanging out with my cousin; however, I was forced by my aunt to spend time with him.

· The boy loved to play basketball; indeed, he practiced it every day.

4. There is no longer any need to use conjunctions if you use semicolons

One key rule in using a semicolon, is that you should not use conjunctions with a semicolon. Remember that both the semicolon and the conjunction have the same function, which is to link two independent clauses. So you should choose whether to use a conjunction or a semicolon.

Examples:

Conjunction

· I rode a chestnut colored horse, and it was extremely fast.

Semicolon

· I rode a chestnut colored horse; it was extremely fast.

Conjunction

· I danced with her during the party, and it was so much fun.

Semicolon

· I danced with her during the party; it was so much fun.

5. Semicolons create sentence variety

One of the best things about using semicolons in your writing, is the sentence variety. If you use only the usual punctuations, it will make your writing look and sound plain and uninspired. When you use semicolons, you are showing readers that you have a wide array of writing tools at your disposal and you know how to use them properly.

Conclusion

When it comes to using semicolons properly, it is imperative that you follow a certain set of rules. With these tips, you’ll be able to use semicolons the right way.

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Flynn Hannan

Flynn Hannan

Bibliophile , Senior Indie Editor at Writers Republic

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