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If the comma is the most misused punctuation mark, the semicolon is probably the least understood.

Use a semicolon to:

  • join 2 independent clauses when the second clause restates the first or when the two clauses are of equal emphasis.
    • e.g., The capital city of British Columbia is Victoria; the capital city of Alberta is Edmonton.
  • join 2 independent clauses when the second clause begins with a conjunctive adverb (e.g., however, therefore, moreover, furthermore, thus, meanwhile, nonetheless, otherwise) or a transition (e.g., in fact, for example, that is, for instance, in addition, in other words, on the other hand, even so).
    • e.g., The capital city of British Columbia is Victoria; however, some people think it should be Vancouver.
  • join elements of a series when individual items of the series already include commas
    • e.g., Major cities in Canada include: Vancouver, British Columbia; Calgary, Alberta; and Toronto, Ontario.

(Source: The Owl at Purdue: Brief Overview of Punctuation)

For more information regarding semicolons, please refer to Punctuating sentences: Commas, semicolons, and colons (Flash presentation) and GCF Learn Free's page on semicolons.

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