Author Topic: Colon [:] vs. semicolon [;]  (Read 1954 times)


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Colon [:] vs. semicolon [;]
« on: January 25, 2014, 08:57:49 AM »
This guide is dedicated to differences between two punctuation marks: colon and semicolon.

These punctuation marks are not typical for definite languages, and their visible similarity may be confusing for a person unfamiliar with their meaning and purpose.

1) Colon [ :] should be used (a) before a list or (b) an explanation that is preceded by a clause that can stand by itself. Think of the colon as a gate, inviting one to go on:

Example: This decision called for only one course of actions: revolt! (b)

Example: This sentence contains the following parts of speech: a noun, an adjective and a verb. (a)

2) Semicolon [;] is used: to (a) connect two independent clauses together into one sentence,  (b) as a super-comma, (c) between items in a series or listing containing internal punctuation:

Example: This could be a complete sentence; this could be another one.

If you put a comma where that semicolon is, you will have committed a "comma splice," which is a nasty grammar error.

There is, however, one exception that can cause you a problem. You don't use a semicolon to connect two complete sentences if there's a conjunction between the clauses (and, but, etc.). In that case, use a comma:                       

Example: This could be a complete sentence, and this could be another one.
Adding that single word, the conjunction "and," means that you must change that semicolon into a comma.