Semicolon Mystery Solved

I read manuscripts and college papers almost every day. And every day I see punctuation errors. It appears the proper use of semicolons is a mystery to many writers.

Perhaps these rules will help.

  1. When joining two complete sentences into one and you’re not using a conjuction such as and, use a semicolon. NOTE: When combining two complete sentences into one sentences, those two sentences are now called independent clauses.
  2. When joining two complete sentences into one and you’re using a transition (examples are: however, therefore, consequently, namely, for example), use a semicolon before the transition and a comma after it. Example: I enjoyed the movie; however, the theater was cold.
  3. When writing a series, if any (even if it’s just one) of the components in the series contains a comma, use a semicolon to separate all the items in a series. Example: She’s lived in many places, including Minneapolis; New York; Ketchikan, Alaska; and Atlanta, Georgia.

The rules are simple and if you learn to use them, you’ll wow your editor–a good thing to do when looking for a book publisher.

Happy writing!

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1 Response to “Semicolon Mystery Solved”


  1. 1 Fay August 7, 2009 at 6:37 am

    This was very helpful. It has been over 40 years since I took my high school English punctuation class and at that time I probably didn’t even care about punctuation. Thanks.


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