Unit 11.1

Semicolon

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Introduction

The semicolon is a punctuation mark, something between a full stop and a comma. It is stronger than a comma but weaker than a full stop.

Form

The semicolon sign is: ;

Example

  • In lists with internal commas
    • The supermarket has dairy on the lower level; meat and vegetables on the ground floor; cosmetics on the first floor.
    • The school has whiteboards in the new classrooms; blackboards in the old classrooms; screens in lecture halls.
    • I own a house in California; a flat in New York and castle in London.
  • In elliptical constructions
    • In 2005 MLS had one office; in 2030, almost 10.
    • Some students brought food; others, drinks; yet others, napkins.
    • Some children have both parents; some, one parent; some, none.
  • linked by a transitional expression
    • Heavy snow continues to fall at the airport; consequently, the flight has been canceled.
    • The marginalisation of women in the job market has increased; thus the introduction of new laws that force the equality of outcome.
    • The exploitaition of people still takes place in some parts of Africa and Asia; so we should do something about it.

Use

We use the semicolon:

  • In lists in which the sentences are too long to use a comma in-between (because the meaning can be lost);
  • In elliptical constructions;
  • when the link is a transitional expression such as ‘consequently, thus, therefore or so’.

Related

At A1 level you can take a look at these:

At A2 level you can take a look at these:

At B1 level you can take a look at these:

At B2 level you can take a look at these:

Exercises

External link to Semicolon exercises (1228).



More exercises

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