sample from HTML program and PDF book
1. If you are in any doubt at all concerning the correct use of semicolons – then avoid using them entirely. They are the most commonly misused and misunderstood mark of punctuation.
3. Remember that the semicolon represents a pause which is longer than a comma but shorter than a full stop (and a colon). It is normally used to separate clauses which could stand alone, but which are closely related.
4. It is used when the second clause expands or explains the first:
Neither of us spoke; we merely waited patiently in silence to see what would happen next.
5. It is used when the clauses describe a sequence of actions or different aspects of the same topic:
There was a sharp, bracing air; the ground beneath us was dry; the sea was calm and clear.
6. It is used before clauses which begin with ‘nevertheless’, ‘therefore’, ‘even so’, and ‘for instance’:
He usually took great care; even so he made a few errors.
7. It is used to mark off a series of phrases or clauses which themselves contain commas:
For this exercise you will need the following materials: some scrap paper; a pen, preferably blue or black; some A4 envelopes; and some good, white, unlined writing paper.
© Roy Johnson 2003