The Semicolon Wink

Contributor: Danielle Childers. Lesson ID: 11034

Why use a semicolon if you think a whole colon would work? Well, it doesn't work that way. They are different! Learn all about the semicolon and how to use it other than in a winky face! ;)



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Have you ever texted your friends a winky face like the one pictured above?

If you have, then you have used a semicolon!

  • Can you think of any other time, besides making winking faces, you used a semicolon?
  • Does it even have a purpose other than making the wink?

Although semicolons have been around long before the wink — and they do serve a grammatical purpose — they are not often used.

Many people mistakenly use commas in their place, creating what is known as a comma splice. Using semicolons in your writing shows sophistication and helps you connect ideas more efficiently.

There are three different ways semicolons are used in the English language.

  1. Unlike the comma, which can connect a complete sentence or phrase, a semicolon connects two complete sentences. Look at the example below.

Sit down. I will bring the food over.

Written with two periods, those two sentences sound like commands and appear serious.

Sit down; I will bring the food over.

With the semicolon, the commands seem softened and now imply generosity.

The semicolon connects two independent clauses that stem from the same thought or are closely related to one another.

  1. A semicolon connects two sentences joined by adverbs or transitional words.

This is my favorite show to watch; however, I will have to leave halfway through the show to get to work on time.

Tina was so worried about hanging the decorations she forgot about the pie in the oven; as a result, the pie was burnt to a crisp.

A semicolon can and does take the place of the conjunctions but and and when joining two independent clauses.

  1. A semicolon is used when listing items when a comma has already been used.

I have lived in Woodburn, Indiana; Mt. Prospect, Illinois; Houston, Texas; and Eugene, Oregon.

Watch the following video for more details on how semicolons are used.

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Watch this next video for a different perspective on using semicolons.

As you watch, note what is included in an independent clause.

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  • What did you learn?

Try writing a few sentences that follow each of the three rules for semicolon use.

Then, move to the Got It? section!

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