Semicolons Can Be Mastered

As I read book proposals and even manuscripts, I see a need for authors to learn how to use semicolons.  The rules are easy to master and here they are:

  • Use a semicolon when you have two independent clauses NOT joined by a conjunction. Example: The dog ran to greet her; she ignored it.  If I joined the two independent clauses with a conjunction, I would use a comma, not a semicolon, and it would read: The dog ran to greet her, but she ignored it.
  • Use a semicolon in a series IF at least one of the components in the series includes a comma. Example: The home decor was eclectic in that it included orange and green from the ’70s; red, white, and blue patriotic symbols; Victorian lace; and stuffed animal heads mounted on the wall.
  • Use a semicolon between independent clauses joined by introductory adverbs such as however, thus, accordingly, and therefore. Example: I love the winter; however, I can do without the icy roads.
  • Use a semicolon between independent clauses joined by explanatory phrases such as for example or that is. Example: He played his best game ever; that is, he scored six three-pointers.

As I said, the rules are easy to master; go ahead and show off!

Happy writing!

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2 Responses to “Semicolons Can Be Mastered”


  1. 1 Carol Ann Hoel January 25, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Got it! I learned about semicolons in high school; however, that was a long time ago. Ha! I know it’s been said; that is, use them or lose them. A semicolon does the work of a master comma; it separates the men from the boys. Enough has been said to know how to separate a list of creatures, like bears, lions, tigers; bunnies, mice, moles; horses, cows, and sheep. Without a semicolon, we would assume they were all the same rather than three separate groups. Thank you for sharing. Blessings to you.


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