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The Semicolon

Recognize a semicolon when you see one.

The semicolon [ ; ] is a powerful mark of punctuation with three uses.

The first appropriate use of the semicolon is to connect two related sentences. The pattern looks like this:

complete sentence + ; + complete sentence.

Here is an example:

Grandma still rides her Harley motorcycle; her toy poodle balances in a basket between the handlebars.

A semicolon can also team up with a transition—often a conjunctive adverb—to connect two sentences close in meaning. The pattern looks like this:

complete sentence + ; + transition + , + complete sentence.

Check out this example:

My father does not approve of his mother cruising around town on a Harley motorcycle; however, Grandma has never cared what anyone thinks.

Finally, use the semicolon to avoid confusion when you have complicated lists of items. The pattern looks like this:

item + , + more information + ; + item + , + more information + ; + and + item + , + more information

Read the following example:

On a Harley motorcycle, my grandmother and her poodle have traveled to Anchorage, Alaska; San Francisco, California; and Tijuana, Mexico.

Keep these three things in mind when you use a semicolon:

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