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Chapter 15. Correctness > 3.3.7 Inappropriate Semicolon Use

3.3.7 Inappropriate Semicolon Use

Usually, the semicolon (;) is used to give sentence variety. Used between two sentences, the semicolon can create a smooth transition for readers as they move from one clause to another.

To avoid the misuse of semicolons, simply make sure that a complete sentence exists on either side of the punctuation. In addition, be sure not to confuse semicolons with colons (:). Remember that a colon is used to call attention to a special item or to introduce a list: “The vendors include the following: Vitacom, Coastcom, and Megacorp.” A semicolon is used to provide transition: “The company’s business is the design and the construction of petrochemical processes; therefore, the primary activity of each engineering section must be focused accordingly.” (For a list of adverbial conjunctions, see Section 3 .)


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