A semicolon, the hybrid between a colon and a comma, is often considered one of the more pompous punctuation marks.

In reality, it gets a bad rap just because few people know how and when to use it.

The semicolon is used to indicate a pause, usually between two main clauses, that needs to be more pronounced than the pause of a comma.

So what are the practical ways to implement this little grammatical workhorse?

Read on to see how it can help you merge connected thoughts, separate listed items clearly, and form a bridge to another sentence.

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Why use a semicolon?
Why use a semicolon?
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In the classic grammar and style manual The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White (first published in 1919), the case for the semicolon is laid out clearly: “If two or more clauses, grammatically complete and not joined by a conjunction, are to form a single compound sentence, the proper mark of punctuation is a semicolon.”

In simpler terms, that means you can use a semicolon to separate two complete sentences that are related but not directly linked by a connecting word like “but” or “so.”

For example: “She didn’t show up to work today; she said she had a headache.”


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