The semicolon is used to connect independent clauses, which include a subject and a verb, that are closely related to one another. Semicolons can also separate items in a list when those items include commas.
The Specifics:Use a semicolon between closely related independent clauses not joined with a coordinating conjunction.
Example: Independent clauses joined with a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so):A comma splice occurs when there is no coordinating conjunction in between independent clauses. Sometimes a comma splice can be corrected by the use of a semicolon instead of adding a coordinating conjunction.
I love watching any movie, but my favorite movies involve space and robots.Example: Independent clauses joined with a semi-colon instead of a coordinating conjunction:
I love watching any movie; my favorite movies involve space and robots.
Examples:Use a semicolon between independent clauses linked with a transitional expression. Transitional expressions include conjunctive adverbs and transitional phrases.
Splice: People have feelings, robots have logic.
Corrected Sentence: People have feelings; robots have logic.
Example (Conjunctive Adverb):Use a semicolon between items in a series containing internal punctuation.
I do love going to the movies; however, I can’t afford to go every weekend.
Example (Transitional Phrases):
I warned people the robot overlords were coming; in fact, I even put up posters all over campus.
When I go to the moon, I will pack my warm, fuzzy slippers; a pair of large, green space goggles; and my favorite, pocket-sized action figure.
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