Advice

Semicolons | Forever Grammar Pt. 5

Forever Grammar is a series on Forever Endeavour which will iron out all of your grammar woes. It will ensure your writing is spick and span, to match the brilliant ideas you have, and boost your confidence. We will cover everything from the basics of punctuation to the common errors in spelling. If you have any questions, be sure to leave a comment, and we will always get back to you.


Semicolons are sometimes difficult to get right, so this article will explain the ways you can use semicolons in your writing to help improve your confidence. A semicolon is somewhere between a comma and a full stop, and knowing how to effectively use them can make your writing both clearer, but also more sophisticated.

Connecting Ideas

The most common use of a semicolon is to connect two related ideas to form one complete sentence. However, there are two rules you must follow in this situation: the ideas must be closely linked and the two clauses must be complete sentences that could stand independently without the semicolon. For example:

I went to the beach; the weather was glorious.

Semicolons can also be used in place of conjunctions such as ‘and’, ‘but’ and ‘or’, while keeping the meaning of the sentence the same. For example:

Milo searched for five hours, but he never found his cat = Milo searched for five hours; he never found his cat.

Conjunctive Adverbs

Similarly to linking two independent clauses as above, you should also use a semicolon when using a conjunctive adverb o connect two ideas. Some examples of conjunctive adverbs include:

  • However
  • Therefore
  • Also
  • Likewise
  • Nevertheless
  • Moreover

In this instance, the semicolon should be used before the conjunctive adverb. For example:

I wasn’t looking forward to the date; moreover, he was already running 10 minutes late.

Lists

While in a more simple list, commas will be enough, when dealing with lists that are more complicated or made up with longer phrases, semicolons can be used to make the information clearer and easier to read. Semicolons mean that it’s easier to see which items are grouped together in the list. For example:

I’m looking forward to visiting Paris, particularly for the Eiffel tower; Rome, which is said to be lovely this time of year; and Berlin, as my son has a keen interest in history, and we love the culture.

Remember that the uses for semicolons are actually quite limited, and that it doesn’t look good to chuck them anywhere in your writing. We hope you can come back to this guide whenever you feel unsure, but trust in your writing and you will get better!

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