In some legal documents, sentences can be the lengths of paragraphs due to semicolons. What are the grammatical rules for the use, or maximum number, of semicolons for non-legal writing?

Here is a specific example I am struggling with: IC; (transitional phrase), IC; IC.

Independent clause = IC.

Does my example use semicolons validly?

  • 1
    Are you seriously asking us whether the exact text IC; (transitional phrase), IC; IC. (with no other context) constitutes enough/too many/too few semicolons? All I can say is the (transitional phrase), bit seems somewhat syntactically divorced from anything I can meaningfully attach it to. Jan 26, 2015 at 18:25
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    There is no limit to how many semicolons one can use. Punctuation =/= grammar. There is a stylistic guideline, however, which is to use a semicolon when it clarifies meaning and not to use one when it obscures meaning. The same goes for all punctuation.
    – Anonym
    Jan 26, 2015 at 18:55

2 Answers 2


There are no upper limits on how many semicolons you can use; in fact, there aren't set limits on the number of adjectives you can use to describe a noun, or the number of clauses that can be attached to another relative clause, either; grammar doesn't normally prescribe such limits; leave it to the legal profession to stretch the boundaries of sensibility, though; yes, your example is valid, although it might be prudent to see whether it wouldn't read better if one of those semicolons were converted to a full stop.


There are no grammatical rules that do what you want. Sorry. It may be unwise to use many semicolons because it makes a text less comprehensible, but you can't expect to find a remedy in a grammar.

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