A semicolon is what happens when a comma and a colon decide to have a child. It’s a little comma-ish, and it’s a little colon-ish. And yet it has its own function and purpose, which isn’t all that hard to follow at all.
This lesson goes out to my homeboy who likes monkeys and is also an expert is popping limbs in and out of place.
There are basically three main rules to follow when applying these buggers into your sentences.
Semicolons are used in place of a period to join two sentences when the conjunction (and, but, yet…you know what a conjunction is) has been left out. A semicolon separates two independent clauses. What the heck are independent clauses? They’re two independent sentences that operate on their own. Like this…
Osito stars in many Spanish soap operas. Osito is a black poodle.
You could do a lot of things with that sentence, but we’re just going to focus on semicolons here. So, since each sentence directly relates to one another — and the second sentence enhances the picture even more after reading the first sentence — you can plop in a semicolon.
So, once again, if two sentences directly relate to one another, and if they are both independent clauses, there is only one option: semicolon. Or should I say ;?
Of course, you could always say, “Osito stars in many Spanish soap operas, and Osito is a black poodle,” but that sounds dumb. You want to emphasize here how silly and awesome it is that Osito is such a super star, but he’s also a poodle. Ask yourself, “Are these two sentences independent and not really needing one another to function as a whole?” If the answer is “yes”, ask yourself, “Would the first sentence be a lot clearer and justified and awesome if the second sentence was somehow fused onto it?” If the answer is “yes” again, it’s semicolon time.
Here are a few more examples.
The ladies wore a lot of perfume; they were trying to cover up the smell of kielbasa.
I childproofed my house; the children still get in.
Grandmother knit us a toilet-seat cover; that was a bad idea.
Another proper way to use them is when you’re listing of countries or states along with their cities.
The turkeys finally decided to board the bus and eat ice-cream sandwiches in Nashville, Tennesssee; Mainz, Germany; Warsaw, Poland; Shíjiāzhuāng, China; and Yapacaní, Bolivia.
That one is pretty simple to follow — the rule, not the turkeys.
Use a semicolon before introductory words such as however, therefore, that is, namely, for example, and for instance when they introduce a list following a complete sentence. Here are a few examples.
Donovan can be a real ninny; therefore, no one really likes him.
There are so many cute animals on the planet; for example, llamas, squirrels, hamsters, chinchillas, puppies, cats, elephants, newts (not you, Gingrich), pygmy ponies, giraffes, lemurs, and sea horses are all so adorable.
Billy Mitchell claims he’s the world champion of Donkey Kong; however, no one has seem him prove this.
Got it? Good.
All for now,