Semicolon (;) vs Colon (:) When to Use a Semicolon, a Colon 1

Semicolon (;) vs Colon (:) When to Use a Semicolon, a Colon

Semicolon vs Colon! Learn how to use a semicolon (;) and when to use a colon (:) in English with examples, punctuation rules and ESL worksheets. Colons and semicolons were initially used to express pauses longer than a comma and shorter than a period.

Semicolon (;)

What is a Semicolon?

What is the symbol (;) called in English? It is called a semicolon which consists of a dot above a comma ( ; ).

A semicolon is mainly used to separate two independent clauses while still demonstrating that a close relationship exists between them. The semicolon does a better job of showing the connection between two statements than a full stop would.

When to Use a Semicolon with Examples?

1. We use a semicolon between items in a list or series when the items themselves contain commas.

Examples:

  • There are eight members on the team: two from China and Japan; three from France and Spain; two from Brazil and Chile; and one from India.
  • We visited Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore in the spring; Germany, France, and Italy in the summer; and South Africa in the fall.

2. We use a semicolon to join two independent clauses that are not connected with a coordinate conjunction.

A semicolon is used to separate two independent clauses while still demonstrating that a close relationship exists between them. The semicolon does a better job of showing the connection between two statements than a full stop would.

Examples:

  • They came all the way home; even so, they all knew they had to go back once more.
  • My daughter is a teacher; my son is a doctor.
  • John always slept with the light on; he was afraid of the dark.
  • John likes to play cricket; David likes to play soccer.
  • I drank lemonade; Tom drank tea.
  • My husband would like coffee; I would prefer tea.
  • I went to the basketball court; I was told it was closed for cleaning.
  • I told Anna she’s running for the hills; I wonder if she knew I was joking.

Colon (:)

What is a Colon?

What is the symbol (:) called in English? It is called a colon which is a punctuation mark consisting of two dots one over the other ( : ).

A colon is a fairly common punctuation mark with a varied number of uses. It can be used to introduce a quotation, an example, a series, or even an explanation. Secondly, it can be used to separate two independent clauses. Finally, a colon can be used to show emphasis.

When to Use a Colon with Examples

1. We use colons to introduce lists, series, quotations and explanations. 

A colon is used to announce, introduce a list, a quotation and before a final clause that explains something in the sentence.

Examples of colons with lists, series:

  • He was going to buy three things: chairs, tables, and utensils. 
  • John has all the ingredients: minced clams, milk, potatoes, and onions.
  • I have packed my cricket kit with the equipment I need: bats, gloves and pads.
  • A man needs three things to survive: air, water and food.

Examples of colons with quotations:

  • John wrote: “I wish you a merry Christmas. All affection and best wishes to you and yours.”

2. We use colons to separate independent clauses.

Examples:

  • They will not make it: the storm is too strong. 

3. We use colons to show emphasis.

Examples:

  • He was there for one person: his mother. 
  • You have two choices: finish the work today or lose the contract.
  • That’s because we have one goal: for you to consider your website a success.

4. We use colons to separate units of time.

Examples:

  • Sophia set her alarm clock for 6:30 a.m.
  • She ran the marathon in 1:27:34.5. (one hour, twenty seven minutes, thirty-four point five seconds.)

Semicolon vs Colon | Image

Learn the differences between a colon and a semicolon in English with this useful table.

Semicolon (;) vs Colon (:) When to Use a Semicolon, a Colon

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