Punctuation Basics: The Semicolon

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The basic rules for using the semicolon

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Punctuation Basics: The Semicolon

  1. 1. Punctuation Basics: The Rules of the Semicolon
  2. 2. Using the SemicolonThe semicolon joins two main clauses and, therefore, has the same force as a period.Hilary surfs the internet; her brother surfs the Pacific.The rule for the semicolon is simple. Whatever appears to the left of the semicolon must be a complete sentence; whatever appears to the right must be a complete sentence. Usually the ideas of the 2 main sentences are connected in some way; the semicolon, as visual punctuation, suggests this connection and, therefore, may be used for rhetorical effect.
  3. 3. The Semicolon & Complex ListsA semicolon may only substitute for a comma in order to separate elements in complex lists.Unclear:The company employees include Margaret, the web designer, Joe, Mitch, two graphic designers, Lisa, and Donna a systems analyst.Clear:The company employees include Margaret, the web designer; Joe; Mitch; two graphic designers; Lisa; and Donna, a systems analyst.

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