How do you use a semicolon?


Quick Answer

A semicolon separates independent clauses in a compound sentence when there is no conjunction between them or when a conjunctive adverb or transitional expression comes between the clauses. A semicolon also separates items in a series when commas are contained within the items.

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Full Answer

In the compound sentence, "Ann loves sweets; cakes and cookies are her favorites," no conjunction exists, so a semicolon is appropriate between the two independent clauses. In the sentence, "Ann likes most pies; however, she prefers fruit pies," the two independent clauses are joined by the conjunctive adverb "however." A semicolon goes before the conjunctive adverb (or transitional expression if applicable), and a comma follows it. In the statement, "Jack has lived in Atlanta, Georgia; Dallas, Texas; Los Angeles, California and Detroit, Michigan," semicolons separate the places because the places already have commas.

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