The semicolon is the comma’s aboriginal cousin, but it works a little bit harder; it additionally makes you attending smarter.
The semicolon is acclimated to announce a pause, usually amid two capital clauses, that needs to be added arresting than the abeyance of a comma. The amalgam amid a colon and a comma, it is about advised one of the added affected punctuation marks. In reality, it gets a bad rap aloof because few bodies apperceive how and back to use a semicolon (admittedly, it can be a ambagious grammar rule).
So what are the applied agency to apparatus this little grammatical workhorse? Read on to see back to use a semicolon and how it can advice you absorb affiliated thoughts, abstracted listed items clearly, and anatomy a arch to addition sentence. Knowing these will advice you abstain a grammar aberration that could accomplish you attending bad, afterwards all.
In the archetypal grammar and appearance manual, The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White (first appear in 1919), the case for the semicolon is laid out clearly: “If two or added clauses, grammatically complete and not abutting by a conjunction, are to anatomy a distinct admixture sentence, the able mark of punctuation is a semicolon.”
In simpler terms, that agency you can use a semicolon to abstracted two complete sentences that are accompanying but not anon affiliated by a abutting chat like “but” or “so.”
Example: “She didn’t appearance up to assignment today; she said she had a headache.”
The abbreviate answer: archetype editors, able writers, and you—if you’re savvy. “If words are the beef and beef of writing, again punctuation is the breath, and a acceptable biographer will accomplish acceptable use of it,” says Benjamin Dreyer of Penguin Random House, columnist of the accessible book Dreyer’s English. The semicolon is one of his admired pieces of punctuation, and it was one of America’s abundant authors, Shirley Jackson, who aggressive the admiration. “Shirley Jackson admired her semicolons,” says Dreyer. “I anticipate that’s all the aegis they need. The aboriginal branch of The Haunting of Hill House—one of the abundant aperture paragraphs I can anticipate of—includes three of them.”
Here is Jackson’s abstract aboriginal paragraph:
“No alive animal can abide for affiliated to abide sanely beneath altitude of complete reality; alike larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself adjoin the hills, captivation black within; it had stood so for eighty years and ability angle for eighty more. Within, walls affiliated upright, artery met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were evidently shut; blackout lay steadily adjoin the copse and bean of Hill House, and whatever absolved there, absolved alone.”
If you’re abashed about apostrophes, too, don’t worry—here’s back to use an apostrophe (and back you shouldn’t).
According to Dreyer, “independent sentences don’t adhere calm able-bodied with commas unless they’re as abrupt as ‘He came, he saw, he conquered,’” he explains. “For annihilation of greater length, a semicolon is artlessly better, stronger cement than a comma, while a aeon is too divisive.” It’s additionally grammatically incorrect to articulation two complete sentences application a comma; a semicolon acknowledges that they’re two complete sentences, alike if they are related.
Example: “She didn’t eat the banana; instead, she ate the apple.”
If you haven’t acclimated a semicolon appropriate in the past, don’t worry; it’s a grammar absurdity alike acute bodies make.
It helps to anticipate of a semicolon as array of a bendable period. “Semicolons accommodate the appropriate articulation amid two about absolute thoughts that one wants to present as aloof shy of independence,” explains Dreyer. According to yourdictionary.com, “[The semicolon] shows a afterpiece accord amid the clauses than a aeon would show.”
Example: “David was accepting hungry; he aback regretted absence breakfast.”
In lists, we about use commas to abstracted the items. For example, at the market, I’ll be acrimonious up yogurt, blueberries, and coffee. However, sometimes there are lists that accommodate commas, so it gets ambagious unless you abstracted those items application semicolons.
Example: I’ll be acrimonious up yogurt, which I apperceive needs to be organic; blueberries, because they’re in division and on sale; and coffee, so Daddy will absolutely be able to deathwatch up in the morning.
Semicolons accumulate the items in the account neatly contained, so your acceptation is consistently clear. Don’t absence these other common punctuation mistakes anybody needs to stop making.
Use a semicolon to absorb two sentences afterwards a capricious byword such as “however” and “as a result.” You apparently already apperceive to use a breach afterwards the capricious byword (“However, I still got the discount”), but you may not apperceive that you can use a semicolon afore the capricious byword to anatomy a arch to the antecedent book (“The auction was clearly starting on Saturday; however, I still got the abatement on Friday because I had a appropriate code”). You could technically use a aeon in that instance, but a semicolon signals that the thoughts are connected.
Examples: “Everyone knows he deserves a raise; of course, he won’t get one with the accepted account cuts.”
“Her email is alarming up; for example, she got 50 letters in the aftermost 10 account alone.”
Something abroad accessible to apperceive in the punctuation world: back to use a colon.
When you accept a conjunction—a abutting chat such as “but,” “and,” or “so”—a semicolon is unnecessary. In those cases, the actual punctuation mark is a comma. So it would be incorrect to address “Judy jogged on the pavement; but it wasn’t acceptable for her knees.”
The actual version, application a comma, would be “Judy jogged on the pavement, but it wasn’t acceptable for her knees.” Of course, if you got rid of the “but,” a semicolon would be appropriate: “Judy jogged on the pavement; it wasn’t acceptable for her knees.”
Now that you’ve baffled back to use a semicolon, analysis out these grammar rules that advice you complete smarter.
How To Use Colons – How To Use Colons
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