This section of Exploring English describes use of the semicolon ( ; ) in English punctuation.
Used to separate independent clauses not joined by a conjunction:
The Giants won the Superbowl; it was a good day for the bookies.
Used to separate independent clauses joined by conjunctive adverbs such as however, hence, therefore, conversely, consequently, and nevertheless.
The Giants were heavily favoured; consequently, the payouts were small.
[Note: A comma is required after the above conjunctive adverbs]
Used to separate long or complicated elements in a series:
The guests were John, the dentist; Bill and Lucy; and Howard, the duck.
Used to separate closely related elements when joining them would create ambiguity:
Studying is difficult; failing, insufferable.
Used to precede a word, phrase, or abbreviation introducing an explanatory or summarizing statement:
Vehicles are machines for moving people and things; for example, cars, trucks, and boats.
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Last Modified April 08, 2003