We use a semi colon to separate items in a list, and to join two independent clauses.
We use a semi colon to separate items in a list when one of the items already has commas in it.
Each student needs a geometry set that includes a ruler, a compass, and a protractor; a notebook; and two pencils.This sentence has a list of three items: the geometry set, the notebook, and the pencils. Because the geometry set also has a list with commas in it, we use semi colons to separate the items in the main list.
Joining Independent Clauses
We can use a semi colon to join two independent clauses without using a conjunction. We use a semi colon to show that the two parts of the sentence are very closely linked. If you write the same thing as two sentences separated by a full stop, they feel less closely linked.
The sun is going down; we won’t reach the town before dark.This sentence has two independent clauses: ‘The sun is going down’ and ‘we won’t reach the town before dark’. Notice the semi colon between the two parts of the sentence.
Semi colons are often used after each item in bullet point list.
Before starting the walk, make sure you have the essentials:
- warm clothing;
- a hat.