Using Semicolons Correctly

Contributor: Elephango Editors. Lesson ID: 10081

Sometimes, sentences want to be joined together and not separated by periods. Conjunctions work, but there is also a punctuation mark that can unite them. Learn all about semicolons!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Writers like variety in their writing. Some use words in unusual ways, some use different sentence structures, and others like to experiment with punctuation.

Not all sentences are joined by conjunctions.

  • Do you know which punctuation mark can join sentences together?

In this lesson, learn how semicolons make your writing more interesting!

Read this opening description of London by Charles Dickens in his novel Bleak House.

"Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty city). . . Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats."

heavy fog in London

That is a lot of fog!

  • What has Dickens used instead of coordinating conjunctions to join independent clauses?

One of the main uses of semicolons is to join two independent clauses that are closely related. Here are more examples.

Star Trek is a good movie; it is my favorite movie of all time.

Selena Gomez is a famous singer and actress; she was a former child star who is now more mature.

Peanuts are not nuts; they are legumes.

Now that you have seen examples of how a semicolon joins sentences, look at another use of semicolons.

Semicolons can also be used when the second independent clause begins a transition. The following are a few of the words called conjunctive adverbs.

  • however
  • therefore
  • hence
  • thus
  • consequently
  • nevertheless
  • meanwhile

Here are some examples of semicolons used with conjunctive adverbs.

It was cold; therefore, we wore jackets in class.

James came to class late; consequently, he missed the test.

Susan liked chocolate; nevertheless, she ate very little of it.

Look at the example sentences below and decide if the semicolon joins sentences or works with a conjunctive adverb.

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  • How did you do?

If you need extra help, explore this resource on The Semicolon.

When you are ready, continue to the Got It? section to practice using semicolons!

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