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Language CentreTranslation and correctionLanguage Centre Style GuidePunctuationSemicolon


1. The two sentences are felt to be too closely related to be separated by a full stop:

The road runs through a beautiful wooded valley; the railway line follows it closely.

2. There is no connecting word which would require a comma, such as and or but:

I know the city well; I've lived there all my life.


There is one special circumstance in which a semicolon may be used to separate sequences which are not complete sentences. This occurs when a sentence has become so long and so full of commas that the reader can hardly be expected to follow it without some special marking. In this case, we sometimes find semicolons used instead of commas.

They pointed out, in support of their claim, that they had used materials stipulated in the contract; that they had taken every reasonable precaution, including some not mentioned in the code; and that they had employed only qualified workers, all of whom are very experienced.

Last modified:15 September 2017 9.00 p.m.