Semicolons And Colons Explained

; A semicolon:

  1. Is a long pause that balances two related ideas. Example: She went by train; she would rather have flown.
  2. Adjoins two main clauses containing opposite ideas. Example: She is efficient; he is disorganised.
  3. Adjoins two main clauses where there is no conjunction. Example: My laptop is broken; I can’t transmit the document.
  4. Can separate items in a list when the items already contain commas. Example: Attendees included the CEO, Jeff Davis and his son, Tristan; the MD, Fred Khumalo, and his wife, Susan; and Harriet and Kosi from the PR agency.
  5. May be replaced by a full stop or by the conjunctions: and, but, so, for, although.

: A colon:

  1. Indicates that a list will follow.
  2. Indicates that an idea, or an explanation, will follow. Example: There is one thing that separates writers from talkers: writers write.
  3. Indicates dialogue. Example: James said: ‘You’re a wonderful woman, Sarah.’
  4. Indicates a direct quotation. Example: Freud once said: ‘There is nothing wrong with blaming your mother.’

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  1. Derrick Darden

    Very useful information for writers or anyone who wants to speak proper English.

  2. Yakub Isa

    Very useful to those of us who want to communicate in English via writing

  3. Writers Write

    We’re glad you found this article to be useful.

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