The Semicolon For Submission

The semicolon (;) is a punctuation mark that separates major sentence elements. While terminal marks, such as full stops, exclamation marks, and question marks, declare the end of a sentence, the comma, semicolon, and colon are internal elements. Thus, the semicolon becomes a ‘secondary boundary’ mark.

  1. The semicolon connects two closely related independent clauses
    • The semicolon most commonly joins two independent clauses, if these are not already joined by a coordinating conjunction like and.
    • For example:
      • Andrew has gone to buy food; the grocery store will shut pretty soon.
      • I’m going away on a week-long vacation; my phone will be unreachable during that time.
    • Remember: A semicolon should be followed by an uppercase letter only if the word is a proper noun or an acronym.
  2. The semicolon can replace commas, particularly in a list that already contains commas.
    • Semicolons divide a list of items if the elements are long or contain internal punctuation. Thus, the semicolon helps readers follow the divisions between the elements.
    • For example:
      • I need to contact tax offices in Perth, Australia; Muscat, Oman; and Oahu, Hawaii.
      • So, semicolons can link independent clauses; replace a conjunction; and long, comma-loving lists.
    • Remember: Semicolons are not interchangeable with commas or periods, but are somewhere in between. They are stronger than a comma, but not as finite as a period.
  3. The semicolon replaces the conjunction at times, making the sentence crisper.
    • When a semicolon is in play, it replaces the ands, buts, and ors; you do not need both.
    • For example:
      • I was on a jungle safari, and saw a lion chase a deer.
        I was on a jungle safari; I saw a lion chase a deer.
      • Grandpa still rides his Harley Davidson. He refuses to install a basket between the handlebars.
        Grandpa still rides his Harley Davidson; he refuses to install a basket between the handlebars.

To easily remember these, imagine a semicolon. It is written as a comma with a period above it, which alludes to its function. A semicolon asks for a greater pause between thoughts than a comma, but less than a period.