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.
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.”