The Art of the Semicolon
LadyTrouble wrote in this article http://personapaper.com/article/23898-self-consciously-yours about how hard it was to remember whether to us a semi-colon or a comma. I decided to tackle the easier part, which is the use of the semi-colon (commas could get pages and pages, rather than one post).
Semicolons are for separating phrases that could both stand on their own, as in this example:
Bananas are tasty; they are a good source of fiber.
Each of these could actually be a sentence by itself:
Bananas are tasty. They are a good source of fiber.
If you used a comma in that spot, you would have a run-on sentence, which is grammatically incorrect:
Bananas are tasty, they are a good source of fiber. (It's in red because it is incorrect.)
See how that sounds all jumbled together? Hence "run-on". So just remember--semicolons allow you to modulate the flow of your writing by combining what would otherwise be short, choppy sentences. If you want to use a comma, instead, just add a conjunction, like so:
Bananas are tasty, and they are a good source of fiber.
Or skip the comma and the conjunction and also the subject (they) or the subject and verb (they are) of the second phrase:
Bananas are tasty and are a good source of fiber.
Bananas are tasty and a good source of fiber.
At this point, you are probably very, very tired of hearing about bananas, so let's move on to different fruit. Note this example of simple list:
The menu features three fruits: grapes, cherries, and blackberries.
Commas easily separate the items on the simple list, but if the list gets more complicated, including additional punctuation, more words, or includes numbered or lettered items, semicolons are used between the items, instead:
The menu features three fruits: lush, hand-picked grapes; tart, juicy cherries; and fresh, organic blackberries.
The menu features three fruits:
1. Hand-picked grapes;
2. Tart cherries;
3. Organic blackberries.
I hope this helps clear up any confusion over the use of semicolons!
Image Credit » http://pixabay.com/en/artistic-calligraphy-writing-design-300097/