0

I have never quite understood a semicolon’s purpose in a sentence. I understand it brings two complete sentences together, but when should exactly I use it? Are there any rules I should know about?

5
  • We won't be able to help you here, but just as you are unsure, so are your readers. No writer in English has ever lost a reader for never using a semicolon. This "brings two complete sentences together" is not a good rule. Jan 7 at 20:53
  • Have you tried looking this up online? Googling "when to use semicolons" gives plenty of results.
    – alphabet
    Jan 7 at 21:12
  • 1
    'I didn't ask about semicolons; he did.' 'There's a good reason I don't ask about semicolons; nobody else cares.' 'There's a good reason I don't ask about semicolons: People don't know how to use them.' 'There's a good reason I don't ask about semicolons—they're fraught with danger…AAAAHHH!' I often use them for short, related sentences (they don't have to be super closely related; that's a myth) and use them as super commas (often before the conjunction) when joining sentences with multiple commas if needed for clarity/readability. Jan 7 at 21:35
  • @YosefBaskin Yes, that's not a good rule as written, because it's missing the critical relationship criterion. But it could be worse: at least it's not an em-dash joining them. :)
    – tchrist
    Jan 7 at 22:10
  • @tchrist Yes, I am a fan of the punch of an em-dash. Like any spice, it can be overused—but I don't. A semicolon used correctly can still be fussy. Jan 7 at 22:23

0

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.