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11.3: Semicolons

  • Page ID
    6529
  • Use semicolons to connect two independent clauses when the second clause restates the first, or when the two clauses are closely related.

    Example 1 - Road construction in Seattle has hindered travel around town; streets have become covered with bulldozers, trucks, and cones.

    The second independent clause is describing the same situation as the first, but in a different manner.

    Example 2 - It rained heavily during the afternoon; however, we still managed to have a picnic.

    The second independent clause is linked to the first with a semicolon and a conjunctive adverb. Whenever you use a conjunctive adverb, either after a semicolon or at the beginning of the sentence, place a comma after it.

    Here is a list of common conjunctive adverbs. Be wary of confusing conjunctive adverbs with subordinating conjunctions, for they have distinctly different uses. For a list of subordinating conjunctions, see Chapter 12, lesson 1.

    Besides Hence However Incidentally Indeed Likewise
    Meanwhile Moreover Nevertheless Similarly Still That is
    Thereafter Therefore Thus Undoubtedly In fact As a result

    Use a semicolon to separate elements in a sequence when those elements already have commas within them. Doing so clarifies for the reader how the commas are functioning.

    Example 1 - Recent sites of the Summer Olympic Games include Beijing, China; Athens, Greece; Sydney Australia; and Atlanta, Georgia.

    The semicolons separate the larger elements, while the commas separate the city and country within each element.

    Review Questions

    For each sentence, insert missing semicolons or omit incorrectly placed semicolons.

    1. They gave the fire marshal kickback to look the other way consequently, the building went up in flames the very next year.
    2. The earthquake on March 22nd was nearly a 6.0 on the Richter scale, however there was no loss of life.
    3. Ingrid received a huge bonus last Christmas; because she singlehandedly sealed the Union Plastics deal.
    4. The old industrial centers of America—Detroit, Michigan, Cincinnati, Ohio, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania—are attempting to find new ways to thrive in a tech-heavy economy.
    5. I came in second place, my father hid his disappointment.