I am a mathematics student and not a native English speaker. There is something that has always been unclear to me. I am writing an essay right now and I want to construct the following sentence:

"This is best understood in the following way; when considering the kth product we can either choose to produce it or not."

Is the semicolon here correct?. I know for sure that I do not like the idea of placing a full stop there because it does not feel right. However, I am not sure at all if this is correct as it is. If anyone can correct me or confirm that it is correct that would be great.

  • 1
    quick, non-explanatory answer: you should use a colon there, not a semi-colon.
    – Hellion
    Oct 15, 2014 at 21:31

1 Answer 1


I would use a colon here, because it tells the reader that the second statement describes a consequence of the first.

  • Will do, thanks for the answer. When would you use the semicolon then?
    – Slugger
    Oct 15, 2014 at 21:46
  • @Slugger - You can think of it as a kind of intermediate punctuation mark that (to varying degrees, depending on the context) combines some of the characteristics of comma, period/full stop and colon. Take a look at the usage notes on Wikipedia for more detailed discussion regarding how and when to use it.
    – Erik Kowal
    Oct 15, 2014 at 21:57

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