Colons and Semicolons

We all use colons and semicolons incorrectly sometimes. They’re incredibly easy to confuse or use at the wrong time, especially when you’re trying to ‘spice up’ your writing by throwing in something more exciting than a comma or a full stop. Here’s some quick examples to help you with their use.

The Colon

The colon is used to introduce extra information related to the first part of the sentence.

Examples

There are lots of ways to use a colon:

  1. To make a bulleted/numbered list (see?)
  2. Or to make a list in the sentence, e.g. “Before you begin writing, make sure you have: a pen, some paper, a snack, and a glass of wine (for inspiration).”
  3. To define a word or phrase. “Facebook: a website I spend way too much time on when I should be writing my essay.”
  4. To explain a statement. “I don’t trust him: his eyes are too close together.”
  5. To introduce a quotation or reported speech. “As Mr Trump said: ‘We’re gonna win so much, you may even get tired of winning!'”

The Semicolon

The semicolon joins together two clauses that could be written as separate sentences. It can help you vary the lengths of your sentences and make your writing more interesting for your readers.

Examples

Here’s a few ways to use the semicolon:

  1. To join two sentences together, e.g. “She was pretending not to know what I meant; however, I wasn’t fooled.”
  2. As a replacement for ‘and’. “I like the green one; he likes the blue.”
  3. In the place of commas in a long or complicated list. “We visited lots of great places in New York: Central Park; the Statue of Liberty; the Empire State Building; and the Natural History Museum, just to name a few.”
  4. To create a ‘pause’ that is longer than a comma but shorter than a full stop (extremely useful in poetry).

 

Happy writing!

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4 thoughts on “Colons and Semicolons

  1. Very practical ideas !!
    Thanks extremely a lot. It really is a good sensation when i’m reviewing an article like your own.
    I’m so pleased I located your blog, your writing is really great. Not every person composes for the exact same reason, yet yours is truly exceptional.
    Great ideas and terrific post total!
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    Like

  2. Admiral Semi Colon – my nemesis!
    I’ve given up looking at the definitions at this point and I just use it where I damn well pleasey in hope that everyon’s too confused and scared to take issue with it. I tend to use it mostly to break up long sentences where the latter part somehow qualifies the last one. Oh and those lists where each item in the list is wordy r itself contains commas.
    Then there’s the winky faces and wot not.
    I had a colonoscopy once – would not recommend.



    I’ll get my coat.

    Like

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