Semicolon Usage – within a sentence

Semicolons are experiencing a new popularity in recent years. This is a good thing, though, it seems like many people are not quite sure how to use them properly. There are two main uses for semicolons and I will be covering only one in this blog post. Watch for my next blog post to explain the other.

When there are two complete sentences whose thoughts go together closely, you can separate them by a semicolon.

  • I saw a deer run through the backyard; she was followed by two fawns.
  • I moved the couch under the window; the recliner went beside it.
  • For dinner she made a delicious lasagna; the béchamel was phenomenal.

The most common kind of mistake writers make when they are trying to use semicolons can be easily identified by simply dividing the two sections of the sentence and judging whether they each can be considered complete on their own.

  • Running as fast as she could; she called loudly to the cab driver.

In this example, “She called loudly to the burglar” could stand alone as a complete sentence. “She” is the subject, “called” is the verb, and “the cab driver” is the object. But “running as fast as she could” is not complete. This sentence should use a comma instead of a semicolon. Running as fast as she could, she called loudly to the cab driver. There, that’s better.

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