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ESL Punctuation rules - Semicolon


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A semicolon is mostly used to link two independent clauses which are closely related in thought. Semicolons separate two main clauses which are closely related to each other. Yet, they cannot stand on their own as complete sentences.

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ESL Punctuation rules - Semicolon

  1. 1. Semicolon By Arundathie Abeysinghe Lecturer in English International Aviation Academy SriLankan AirlinesArundathie Abeysinghe 1
  2. 2.  Indicates a major division in a sentence where there is a more distinct separation between clauses or items on a list than is indicated by a comma  Used to connect two thoughts or ideas which are somehow similar Arundathie Abeysinghe 2
  3. 3.  Use a semicolon to separate independent clauses joined without a conjunction  e.g. Seven students started the research project; only four completed it.  The time is over; please stop writing. Arundathie Abeysinghe 3
  4. 4.  To separate independent clauses connected with a conjunctive adverb  Follow the adverb with a comma  e.g. Our coffee tables arrived after a week; consequently, our requests are late.  Conjunctive adverb – An adverb that joins independent clauses Arundathie Abeysinghe 4
  5. 5.  Use a semicolon to separate items in a series if the items contain commas  e.g. The dates we are considering for evaluations are Tuesday, September 18; Thursday, November 20; or Friday, December 10. Arundathie Abeysinghe 5
  6. 6.  Use a semicolon before introductory words  e.g.however, namely, therefore, for instance etc.  e.g. It rained heavily in the morning; however, they managed to climb the mountain.  We couldn't reach our destination before dark; therefore, we decided to stay in a hotel for the night. Arundathie Abeysinghe 6
  7. 7.  To separate independent clauses that contain commas even if the clauses are joined by a conjunction  A semicolon helps the reader to see the break in thought  e.g. Students needed library facilities, updated course materials, tutoring ; but since none of these were available, they did not perform well at the examination. Arundathie Abeysinghe 7
  8. 8.  Avoid using a semicolon when a comma is needed:  Incorrect: The handbag is green; but not new. Correct: The handbag is green, but not new.  Incorrect: Because the perfume is strong; I don’t like it. Correct: Because the perfume is strong, I don’t like it. Arundathie Abeysinghe 8
  9. 9.  however consequently moreover  accordingly instead nevertheless  therefore besides otherwise  thus furthermore hence Arundathie Abeysinghe 9
  10. 10. Thank you! Arundathie Abeysinghe 10