A semicolon, on the other hand, is a cross between a comma and a period; denoting that related information is to follow.
Here are some common semicolon rules:
We often use a comma at the end of a thought. It causes the reader to pause. Now, the semicolon, being a combination of a comma and a period notes more or less a complete thought. When you use the semicolon, you are letting the reader know that the words which follow the semicolon are closely related to the words preceding the semicolon.
Tasha said she was sorry; it was her fault anyway.
There are certain words that we use to cause the reader to pause. Some grammar experts call these connector words or transitional words. We use these words to connect two independent clauses (sentences that have a subject and a verb, and is a complete thought).
Use a semicolon between independent clauses, separated by connector or transitional words such as and, but, with respect to, in other words, actually, indeed, furthermore, also, besides, however, as soon as, all of a sudden, etc. Place the semicolon in front of the connector words and a comma after connector words.
I ran for six miles; all of a sudden, my feet began to ache.
I can’t believe he didn’t open the door; then again, she did tell him she didn’t need his help for anything.
In sentences that contain a series of items, we use commas. Sometimes, when the series contain items that include a comma (cities and states) a semicolon is used to make items in a series clearer.
I’d like to visit Paris, Texas; Marysville, Michigan; and San Jose, Costa Rica.
Semicolon or Period?
When you just want the reader to pause or when you want to join independent clauses together, use a semicolon. Use a period at the end of a complete sentence.
A semicolon is never used at the end of a sentence; however, a semicolon can be used at the end of a complete thought. Essentially, when two minor thoughts are brought together to form a better understanding for the reader, a semicolon may be used.
Copyright Marlene C. Bertrand 2014
Originally published 12-8-2014