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Semicolons

Do you get confused about the proper way to use a semicolon? Semicolons do not represent a full stop at the end of a sentence, as periods do; rather, theyíre like the "yellow light" of punctuation marks: they signal a pause between one sentence and the next. You slow down, then stop at the end of the second sentence.

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.

They went to the scariest movie they could find; they didnít invite their youngest sister.

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 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.

Due to the E-Newsletter's large readership, we are unable to respond to individual English usage questions.


Pop Quiz

Select the correctly punctuated sentence. Scroll down to view answers.

1A. Letís go dancing; afterward we can get dessert.
1B. Letís go dancing, afterward we can get dessert

2A. Pizza is my favorite food; however, I havenít had a chance to eat it in a couple of years.
2B. Pizza is my favorite food, however I havenít had a chance to eat it in a couple of years.

3A. The three winners of the contest were Kelly Gee, California, Bob Davis, Delaware, and Sandy Hu, Nevada.
3B. The three winners of the contest were Kelly Gee, California; Bob Davis, Delaware; and Sandy Hu, Nevada.


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Correction

Thank you to very alert E-Newsletter reader Amelia B. who noticed an error in question no. 1 in last week's Bonus Quiz on Finding Subjects and Verbs. The correct answer was shown as, "The winner was not present to accept her statuette." Amelia pointed out that the word present is not a verb in this case but rather an adjective. The correct answer, which was not given as an option, should have been, "The winner was not present to accept her statuette." The question has been replaced with "The winner was presented with her statuette."


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Answers to Pop Quiz

1A.

2A.

3B.


Wordplay

Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

Marathon runners with bad shoes suffer the agony
of de feet.

 


68 One-Minute English Usage Videos

English In A Snap: 68 One-Minute English Usage Videos FREE 

Learn all about who and whom, affect and effect, subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and much more by just sitting back and enjoying these easy-to-follow lessons. Tell your colleagues (and boss), children, teachers, and friends. Click here to watch.


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