5 Minute Grammar Lesson :: How to Use a Semicolon


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Welcome to another 5 Minute Grammar Lesson! Today’s topic includes easy to follow rules so you can learn how to use a semicolon!

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How to use a semi-colon. 5 Minute Grammar Lesson with SimplifyLiveLove *This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog.*

How to Use a Semicolon

Semicolons baffle a lot of people, but they shouldn’t because they are really pretty easy. As long as you can tell the difference between a complete sentence and a fragment, semicolons are very straightforward. They have two  main uses:

1. To separate items in a complex list.
Usually, when we separate items in a list, we use a comma: I like blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries.

Sometimes, the list is more complicated and we use semicolons instead: When my husband was in the military we lived in Sacramento, California; Tempe, Arizona; Okinawa, Japan; and, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Too easy, right?

2. To connect complete sentences.
Number 2 is the one that normally confuses people because they try to connect a fragment and a sentence with a semicolon, and that is WRONG.

Wrong: Although the police officer is a very big man; he wasn’t hungry and he wouldn’t eat the donuts. The first part of this sentence is a fragment. Instead of a semicolon, a comma should be used. OR, simply take the “although” off the first part of the sentence and it’s fixed:

Correct: The police officer is a very big man; he wasn’t hungry and he wouldn’t eat the donuts. Here you have two complete sentences linked by a semicolon. No problem, right!

To me, the hard part about semicolons is identifying fragments. As long as you remember that a complete sentence must have both a subject AND a verb, you should be fine!

Learn easy rules for how to use a semi-colon in this 5 minute grammar lesson with simplifylifelove.

And that’s your 5 Minute Grammar Lesson!

For more grammar help, check out these resources.

Want more grammar posts?

It’s or Its?

Less or Fewer?

Top 10 Mistakes Bloggers Make {and how to stop them}

Who’s or WHOSE?

Who or Whom?

And if you’re looking for helpful grammar resources, here are my top picks:

Grammarly – Instantly fix over 250 types of errors with this free web-based grammar checker!

Strunk & White Elements of Style

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation 

Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation 

The Grammar Girl’s Quick & Dirty Tips for Better Writing

Check back next Sunday for another quick grammar lesson! And if you’d like to get weekly grammar tips delivered straight to your inbox, please subscribe to my once a week newsletter. I promise I won’t spam you. 🙂

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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  1. No, Melanie…my grammar posts are either focused on a mistake I saw while out and about or on something my students do over and over and over and over… 🙂 I'm glad you liked it, though!

  2. Hi! I totally ripped you off. I printed this out and that was the older twos grammar lesson today. THANKS! xoxo

  3. I’m going through this series for the first time and came across this one. The punctuation mark that seems to be the most misused is the colon “:”. When did it become acceptable to place a colon at the end of an incomplete sentence or after a verb? Just because you’re making a list, doesn’t mean you use a colon. I’m on a mission to eliminate the incorrect use of the colon! 🙂 Unfortunately, I think I might be too late. Even colleges use it incorrectly on their websites! UGH! A great series!

    1. Hahaha, MJ! You know I had to check my post to make sure I didn’t use a colon incorrectly! 😉