I'm writing something along the lines of

The service is comprised of two parts; detailed tracking, and logging.

Should I employ the semi-colon, as above, or is a colon more appropriate? Or should I start a new sentence? My feeling, because this is such a short list, is that a new sentence would be somewhat clunky. This is a follow up to the helpful answer I found about comprise.

  • 3
    IMO a colon is definitely the better choice. A colon indicates clearly that the clarification or exposition of the first part, comes in the second part. A semicolon however merely indicates somehow-related ideas being merged into a single sentence.
    – JDM-GBG
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 10:35
  • 1
    Thank you, that makes a lot of sense. The direct indication, offered by the colon, is something that had escaped me.
    – Dave
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 10:38

2 Answers 2

  1. "Comprised of" is non-standard usage; "composed of" is preferred.
  2. When introducing a list with a colon, it's common to separate the subsequent list items with a semicolon or to format the list items as bulleted phrases (though this is far less common).

The service is composed of two parts: detailed tracking; and logging.

alternatively—though much less common:

The service is composed of two parts:

  • detailed tracking.
  • logging.

Semicolons are used to separate two independent clauses without conjunction, which isn’t the case for your sentence, so you should use a comma. Also, looking up the word comprise in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, the example it shows is almost like yours:

The house comprises two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a living room.

  • 1
    Why downvote, if you don’t mind taking a minute to explain the issue rather than clicking a button?
    – Neeku
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 15:21
  • I'd love to know that too. I didn't down vote it.
    – Dave
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 16:11
  • Hi @Dave. Maybe consider upvoting if you found the answer helpful:)
    – Neeku
    Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 11:00
  • Your sentence is NOT "almost like" Op's sentence: your sentence has a verb ("comprises") introducing a list. In Op's sentence the verbal phrase ("is comprised of") introduces the phrase "of two parts" - and the sentence could end there: "The service is comprised of two parts." In Op's sentence, the list is an expansion / explanation of the words "two parts"; but your sentence does not have anything corresponding to the words "two parts". Therefore, Op's sentence needs punctuation to connect the words "two parts" with the list that amplifies those "two parts". ... Cont'd
    – TrevorD
    Commented May 12, 2019 at 22:53
  • Cont'd ... In my view that 'connection' between "... two parts" and the following list of those two parts requires either a colon (:) or an em-dash. The list after the colon or dash amplifies the words "two parts". Your sentence has nothing equivalent to the words "two parts" in Op's sentence.
    – TrevorD
    Commented May 12, 2019 at 23:01

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