Definition of semicolon in US English:



  • A punctuation mark (;) indicating a pause, typically between two main clauses, that is more pronounced than that indicated by a comma.

    • ‘I took my sit in Creative Writing and listened as Mr. Thompson lectured the class on when to use commas and semicolons when writing a story.’
    • ‘I attended the news conferences of February 27 and a reporter asked me whether that moment was a period or a comma or a semicolon in the story of Catholicism in America.’
    • ‘Specifically, a series of colons and semicolons was presented during each trial.’
    • ‘I abhor unsightly blemishes so I avoid semicolons and parentheses.’
    • ‘We now have to follow world accounting standards and world other standards, so why do we not just follow world tax law grammatical standards and settle for the semicolon?’
    • ‘And this writing seems pretty ordinary: complete sentences; semicolons; yada yada.’
    • ‘We live in a world that has completely lost track of the semicolon, we speak in incomplete sentences, with three little dots of ellipsis understood, because we never find the right word… Life is beautiful, but it has no form.’
    • ‘Semicolons are replaced by final periods, and the slight pauses created by commas are replaced by the more definite separations of colons or semicolons.’
    • ‘I am ashamed to say that although I understand the importance of semicolons, and appreciate their grace, I still have no idea what to do with them.’
    • ‘In the realm of punctuation, a comma is used for a brief pause, a semicolon for a more moderate pause, and a period as a full stop.’
    • ‘A semicolon here, a stronger verb there, and do you really need that dependent clause?’
    • ‘If you don't know whether or not to use a colon, a semicolon, or a dash, cut that sentence down!’
    • ‘What follows a semicolon explains, elaborates, or clarifies the clause that appears before the semicolon.’
    • ‘Eddie finds himself without much to do - Ted's books tend to run about 500 words, and he keeps the kid busy retyping the thing, changing a comma to a semicolon and back again.’
    • ‘Maybe it says you're a little naughty if you use a semicolon instead of a colon?’
    • ‘Most letters would be vastly improved if they contained some short, even one-word sentences; and some change-of-pace punctuation like semicolons, dashes, question marks.’
    • ‘Note that attributes are separated by commas, whereas each rule ends with a semicolon.’
    • ‘Someone decided that the semicolons were needlessly fussy, resulting in what English teachers call a dangling modifier.’
    • ‘So few people understand how a semicolon is supposed to work, and even those who do routinely appear stuffy, because most of the time they could use separate sentences or an em-dash instead.’
    • ‘I overuse semicolons for no particular reason except that I've always liked them.’