What is the use of Semicolon in English?

1,999 Views Updated: 29 Aug 2017
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What is the use of Semicolon in English?

They say that English is a funny language, and it is so because the language is loaded with rules that you ought to follow when using English.

One such rule is the use of semicolons. Here’s how to use them.

Meaning of Semicolon

The semicolon [; ] is a punctuation mark used between sentences to signify a connection between two sentences which have been framed as one.

In English, we use Semicolons in three different situations.

A semicolon is used to connect two related sentences.  


I have my football match tomorrow; I can't go out tonight.

While using a semicolon keep these three things in mind:

• The two main clauses that you wish to join using a semicolon should be closely related in terms of their meaning.

• Don't capitalize the word that follows the semicolon unless that word is a proper noun.

• Keep the use of semicolons limited; do not scatter them randomly throughout your writing.

When to use a Semicolon in a List?

A semicolon can be used in a list with internal commas. Here, the semicolon acts as a ‘super-comma’ (just for the imagination)


Our new store will have groceries on the ground level; stationery, housewares, and beauty products on the first floor; men’s and women’s clothing on the lower ground floor; and books and music on the second floor.

(Image Courtesy: The Semicolons)

When to use Semicolon v/s Comma?

An independent clause can stand alone as a sentence, and at times two independent clauses are linked together to form a compound sentence. Based on the need of the sentence, a comma or a semicolon can be used between the independent clauses in a compound sentence.

Example of how to use a comma:

It rained heavily during the morning hours, but we still managed to have our picnic.

Example of a how to use a semicolon:

It rained heavily during the morning hours, but we still managed to have our picnic.

A semicolon is sometimes said to be stronger than a comma but weaker than a period.

Other uses Of Semicolons

#1. Semicolons are also used in elliptical constructions. It can be done so when a semicolon is combined with a comma. In such cases, the comma acts as an ellipsis and eliminates the need of repeating a portion which has been already explained.


• The positive control showed an increase of 14%; the negative control, 0%.

• In 1992, Starbucks had less than 200 stores; ten years later, over 5,000.

• Some people brought grains; others, clothes; yet others, merely a readiness to help.

#2. A semicolon is also used between two independent clauses which are linked by a transitional expression (e.g., accordingly, consequently, for example, nevertheless). 


• Heavy snow continues to fall at the railway station; consequently, all trains have been delayed.

#3. Semicolons also add variations in your sentences by giving a varied structure to them. You can use them to combine a few short sentences to form a complex sentence. 

(Image Courtesy: Keywordsfr)

Did you know the uses of Semicolons? Let us know in the comment section below.

Posted by: Abhi Posts: (3) Opinions: (45) Points: 770 Rank: 104

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