View Full Version : Help with semi-colons.

Blue Screen of Death
June 29th, 2008, 02:31 PM
Did I spell semi-colon right? Well, whatever. I seriously need help with them. I never really got the hang of using them, so any help would be appreciated.

Elite Overlord LeSabre™
June 29th, 2008, 02:58 PM

This post here has the basics on both semicolon and colon usage.

JX Valentine
June 29th, 2008, 03:01 PM
Tip: You may not want to use them, then. Really, you shouldn't be using any complex mark of punctuation (i.e. not the essentials such as periods, commas, quotation marks, et cetera) you don't have a handle on. As weird as it is for me to tell you not to do something, what I mean is you probably don't want to include a semicolon in your fics right away until you really work on figuring things out, possibly getting together with a beta reader and practicing on a piece that you don't intend on posting. Otherwise, you should probably just avoid them altogether. The reason why is because even if you think you have a handle on a complex mark of punctuation, you may actually be using them incorrectly anyway, and more complex forms of punctuation aren't often necessary in the first place. For example, you can avoid using a semicolon (It can be hyphened or not, depending on your preference.) by simply using a comma and a conjunction or a period.

That said, if you really need to know, here's three rules of thumb:

1. If the two independent clauses (pieces that can form their own sentences) are very closely related (and you wanted to turn them into a compound sentence), you can use a semicolon.
e.g. "It was dark and cold; I went inside after a few minutes."

2. If the second of the two independent clauses starts with an adverb that joins two clauses (such as "however," "moreover," "thus," "therefore," et cetera), you can use a semicolon.
e.g. "It snowed this morning; therefore, school was canceled."

3. If you're writing a list of three or more items that have commas in them, you can use a semicolon between each item (so as not to confuse the reader with commas all over the place).
e.g. "I talked to Tina, the secretary; Martin, the accountant; and Betsy, the supervisor."