Weekly Grammar Tip: Semicolons

A semicolon is  sometimes ignored, often abused, and generally a bit confusing. A semicolon is used to connect two independent clauses without using a fullstop or a conjunction. Typically the second sentence is related to the first but not a direct consequence – think of it as being an afterthought! Generally you can avoid using semicolons by using a conjunction but you should not use a conjunction with a semicolon. Example: Generally you can avoid using semicolons by using a conjunction; you should not use a conjunction with a semicolon (see what I did there?).

Some more examples:

I have a cat and my sister has a dog. Cats are better than dogs.

becomes

I have a cat and my sister has a dog; cats are better than dogs.

or

I love cats but sometimes I get annoyed with all the cat hair on my clothes.

becomes

I love cats; sometimes I get annoyed with all the cat hair on my clothes.

Before you get all excited about semicolons and start whacking them into every sentence you write please remember: semicolons are to be used for good, not evil; never abuse the semicolon and the semicolon will never abuse you.

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6 comments on “Weekly Grammar Tip: Semicolons

  1. Pingback: Grammar for Writers « dodging commas

  2. Pingback: Weekly Grammar Tip: Commas « dodging commas

  3. Pingback: Out there | ministate of mind

  4. I am rather hopeless with semicolons! No matter how hard I try I don’t seem to get it so I am now in the unfortunate habit of just winging it! Shame on me!

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