Semicolon examples

The following examples show a semicolon used to separate two sentences that are related but grammatically independent:

Richard likes cake; Susan likes salad.

Bill was going bald; his hair was falling out.

I didn’t see the step; I’ve now got a bandage on my head.

The semicolon can be used like a comma in lists of items, especially when the list is complicated:

She planned to visit five locations: Soho, London; Brighton & Hove; New York, Mumbai and Hong Kong.

To play the piano well you need: a strong pair of hands; the ability to read music; and a certain passion to perform.

Learn more about using the semicolon.


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18 thoughts on “Semicolon examples

  1. Some magnificent examples of surely the most beautiful of all punctuation marks. It’s difficult not to feel humbled, even ashamed, for having the privilege to read such sublime punctuation.

  2. Actually, in the last example a colon should first be used to introduce the list. The semicolon can then be used to separate list items.

      • wrong!! the first sentence (on the last example) isn’t an independent clause on its own, so a colon shouldn’t be there! Also’ “Bill was going bald; his hair was falling out” is incorrect; this should have a colon in place of the semicolon as the second clause is describing the first.

      • You actually don’t need a colon or semicolons in that particular sentence. Typically (in American English, anyway), a colon comes at the end of an independent clause and precedes any list associated with that clause. If the series of items in the list contain interior commas, then semicolons should be used to separate the items; otherwise, a comma works just fine.

        To play the piano well, you need the following: nimble hands, a sense of rhythm, and the willingness to make mistakes.

        He was traveling to the following cities: Madrid, Spain; Worcestershire, England; and Portland, Maine.

  3. Hi Guys, i’m having a university exams this second semester. And my book methodology of research includes the punctuations marks. Colon, semi colon, parenthesis, dash…etc.

    Enrich me with needed clear marks of these.
    And thanx 🙂

  4. int main(void)
    int x, y;
    x = 1; y = 2; // Two statements are separated by the semicolon
    std::cout << x << std::endl;

    while (wait_event()) ;

    return 0;

    • (my name is actually tim) Depending on what language you are using, semicolons will be used at the end of each line

  5. In this sentence, “To play the piano well you need: a strong pair of hands; the ability to read music; and a certain passion to perform”, you separated the verb from a list of direct objects. The colon should come after an independent clause. You have a fragment before the colon.

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