I’ve been reading this paragraph:

I unlock the bathroom door and pull the handle down, I open it slightly, only to see the face of every family member residing in this house, crowding outside my bathroom en suite door in my room. My mom is standing there—my baby sister, Tia, on her hip; Dad, standing next Mom, a bewildered expression painting his face; Caleb, my oldest brother, looking staunch as ever; the twins, Siobahn and Bryson, an expression crossed between amusement and concern on their faces; Oliver, standing at the front of the pack. He looks nervous and upset.

I understand that semicolons are placed in lists of locations, names, dates, and descriptions. Is anyone able to tell me whether the semicolons have been placed and used correctly in that paragraph?

  • "if the semicolons in the above paragraph have been placed and used correctly?" seems OT. The Q may get closed! – Kris Jul 17 '18 at 7:30
  • Where did you find that paragraph? Did you write it, or is it someone else’s work? If it’s yours, please say so; if it’s not yours, please tell us whose it is. What is your real question here regarding semicolons? How do you think they are being used here? How do you think semicolons ought to be used? How do you think semicolons ought not be used? What purpose is the em dash serving here? – tchrist Jul 17 '18 at 13:33

It's not list items of particular types of things per se that determine the use of a semicolons, it's how those items are themselves punctuated.

The Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.), 6.60, says this:

When items in a series themselves contain internal punctuation, separating the items with semicolons can aid clarity. If ambiguity seems unlikely, commas may be used instead . . . Note that when a sentence continues beyond a series (as in the third example), no additional semicolon is required.

      The membership of the international commission was as follows: France, 4; Germany, 5; Great Britain, 1; Italy, 3; United States, 7.

      The defendant, in an attempt to mitigate his sentence, pleaded that he had recently, on doctor’s orders, gone off his medications; that his car—which, incidentally, he had won in the late 1970s on Let’s Make a Deal—had spontaneously caught fire; and that he had not eaten for several days.

      Marilynn, Sunita, and Jared, research assistants; Carlos, programming consultant; and Carol, audiovisual editor, provided support and prepared these materials for publication.

I am not going to proofread your passage, but I will say that since you have items that make use of commas, the use of semicolons to separate them follows the Chicago advice.

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