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Grad. Studies Home

Semicolon Do's and Don'ts

DO use a semicolon

    Next semester I will be taking courses in systems, the study of how people and organizations interact; developmental psychology, the phases humans move through as they age; and ethics, a comparison of the ways various ethnic groups and religions define right and wrong.

If you only used commas to separate those items, the readers could think that "systems" was one course and "the study of how people and organizations interact" was a different course. With the semicolon, it's clear where each list item ends.

DO NOT use a semicolon

Incorrect: Miguel has promised he would help with the report; although he isn't sure if he could meet with us today.

Correct: Miguel has promised he would help with the report, although he isn't sure if he could meet with us today.

Incorrect: Please make sure you bring the following to the meeting; a copy of the agenda, your up-to-date client notes, and a list of the problems/questions you have compiled.

Correct: Please make sure you bring the following to the meeting: a copy of the agenda, your up-to-date client notes, and a list of the problems/questions you have compiled.

Incorrect: As Freud has so frequently said; "If it's not one thing, it's your mother.

Correct: As Freud has so frequently said, "If it's not one thing, it's your mother.

Incorrect: I finally finished studying for the test; and I am now going to turn on the TV and relax.

Correct: I finally finished studying for the test, and I am now going to turn on the TV and relax.