Semicolons


Rule 1

Use a semicolon in place of a period to separate two sentences where the conjunction has been left out.

Examples:
Call me tomorrow; I will give you my answer then.

I have paid my dues; therefore, I expect all the privileges listed in the contract.

Rule 2

It is preferable to use a semicolon before introductory words such as namely, however, therefore, that is, i.e., for example, e.g., or for instance when they introduce a complete sentence. It is also preferable to use a comma after the introductory word.

Examples:
You will want to bring many backpacking items; for example, sleeping bags, pans, and warm clothing will make the trip better.

As we discussed, you will bring two items; i.e., a sleeping bag and a tent are not optional.

Rule 3

Use either a semicolon or a comma before introductory words such as namely, however, therefore, that is, i.e., for example, e.g., or for instance when they introduce a list following a complete sentence. Use a comma after the introductory word.

Examples:
You will want to bring many backpacking items; for example, sleeping bags, pans, and warm clothing.

You will want to bring many backpacking items, for example, sleeping bags, pans, and warm clothing.

Rule 4

Use the semicolon to separate units of a series when one or more of the units contain commas.

Example:
This conference has people who have come from Boise, Idaho; Los Angeles, California; and Nashville, Tennessee.

Rule 5

Use the semicolon between two sentences joined by a coordinating conjunction when one or more commas appear in the first sentence.

Examples:
When I finish here, I will be glad to help you; and that is a promise I will keep.

If she can, she will attempt that feat; and if her husband is able, he will be there to see her.

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