Semicolon is a termination punctuation mark that is milder than a period but stronger than a comma. Its symbol, in fact, is a sum of the symbols of period and comma, with a period sitting on top of a comma.
Semicolon has two uses. It joins two or more closely related sentences, and it acts as a super-comma to separate elements containing comma(s), with the second use rarely coming into play.
In this post, we’ll cover examples of semicolon in sentences, categorized under its two uses. To get the most out of examples in the first category, notice that the two sentences separated by the semicolon are closely related.
1. Examples of semicolon joining sentences
Semicolon is an ideal way to join two sentences when the second sentence contains a conjunctive adverb (however, therefore, thus, now, otherwise, next, and so on), which builds logical connection between the two sentences. Because of this connection, such sentences are closely related and automatically qualify the criterion for use of semicolon.
The first subcategory contains examples of sentences without conjunctive adverb, and the second, with conjunctive adverb.
1.1 Second sentence without conjunctive adverb
One is mammal; the other is not.
We were happy to see them; so were they.
You pay only for premium service; basic is free.
You pay only for premium service; our premium service is best-in-class, with several features. [The two sentences aren’t closely related and hence can’t be joined by a semicolon.]
Life is not just bed of roses; it has thorns as well.
Weighing a pig won’t fatten it; altering its diet would.
A knife wound heals; a wound caused by words does not.
Luck isn’t divine; it can be created through diligent work.
Word count doesn’t matter; what matters is how effective they’re.
I voted for the current senator last time; I’m not going to vote for him this time.
Vision without action is a daydream; action without vision is a nightmare.
Complex sentences express one key idea; compound sentences, multiple.
A good product doesn’t need promotion; it spreads through word of mouth.
A good product doesn’t need promotion; some marketing push initially though can help it propagate faster. [The two sentences aren’t closely related and hence can’t be joined by a semicolon.]
There rarely are completely free offers; they come attached with hooks.
Wild animals don’t attack people for nothing; they attack when they feel threatened.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Nadal hasn’t won the coveted year-end ATP championship; he hasn’t won the prestigious ATP Masters 1000 titles at Miami and Paris.
Traditionally, grants and debt have been the most preferred financial instruments for aid-projects; equity, guarantees, and other instruments have found relatively less adoption.
In a sentence with both dependent and independent clause, the independent clause carries the main message of the sentence; the dependent clause carries less important information.
In times of prosperity, you’ll be surrounded by friends; in times of adversity, you’ll have to search for them.
Don’t be too sweet lest you be eaten up; don’t be too bitter lest you be spewed out.
Note that which here doesn’t refer to a noun; it refers to the entire thing that comes before it.
Sentence adverb phrases don’t answer any question or modify anything; they express writer’s opinion on the overall sentence.
The former merely provides writer’s opinion of the sentence; it doesn’t build any logical bridge between two clauses or sentences.
Result matters for sure; what matters more is whether we gave our best.
In the early solar system, Jupiter moved inwards eating up rocks and gas, thereby limiting the size of Mars; emergence of Saturn pulled back Jupiter and saved Mars, and even Earth.
The early Earth was a spherical piece of rock, with volcanic vents jutting out of its surface; now it has oceans, soil, life, and many more things.
The recent audit has pointed out that our problem isn’t lack of technology; the problem is what technology we’ve deployed.
Unlike regular verbs, they don’t show any action; they merely link subject to the predicate.
The mob wasn’t just sloganeering; it was intent on stepping beyond to loot and arson.
The best players practice more and improve more; that’s why they are the best.
There are no prizes for logging in hours; they’re for how well you comprehend the material.
One group was assigned six 20-minute running sessions on treadmills at an intensity level of 60-90 percent of their maximum heart rates; the other, walking sessions on treadmills at an intensity level of around 50 percent.
It need not be five minutes; start with as small as you can manage.
The only viable direction to sleep was perpendicular to the mountain wall; in other direction, we could roll down because of the slope.
The projection of the rock, underneath which we had taken shelter, was not deep enough to cover the entire length of our bodies while sleeping; it could barely cover head-to-bum.
At this stage, performing well in the school was secondary; staying afloat was more important.
In 2016 U.S. presidential election, voter turnout was nearly 55 percent; in 2020, it was nearly 62 percent.
Cheetah has one of the highest success rates in catching a prey because of its high speed; it can hit as high as 60 miles per hour in just three seconds and reach top speed of 70 miles per hour.
The government further eased Covid restrictions on people’s movement and gatherings; restrictions though continue on theaters, other events, and elementary schools.
Mac likes to cook; Susan would rather watch TV; I like to solve crossword puzzles.
1.2 Second sentence with conjunctive adverb
You made your bed; now, you must lie in it.
Investigation and follow-up should be impartial and effective; otherwise, people will lose faith in the efficacy of the system.
Some are coming late to the office despite previous warnings; henceforth, everyone will register attendance on a biometric device.
Many aren’t following Covid-appropriate protocols; moreover, overburdened enforcement agencies aren’t too keen on enforcing them.
Limit your nap to 30 minutes to avoid going into deep sleep and feeling groggy after awakening; besides, a longer nap can also keep you awake late in the night.
Fill the pre-exam data and read the instructions just to make sure there are no departures from previous year’s paper; thereafter, quickly glance through the test paper.
Wood-cutter’s folly seems obvious to us, but may not be to him; likewise, you may not realize you’re performing below your potential.
Food items high on Glycemic Index (GI) convert into energy quickly, leading to quick rise and crash in your energy level; in contrast, low-GI food releases energy slowly, sustaining your energy level for longer.
Solving eight calculus problems in the next two hours may look daunting; instead, focus on solving whatever you can in the next thirty minutes.
Asteroid collision theory on extinction of dinosaurs is widely accepted; however, climate-change theory also holds some sway.
The test paper was so tough that I could barely answer a question; nevertheless, I answered most questions partially.
2. Examples of semicolon as super-comma in lists
It’s easy to associate everywhere, nowhere, here, there, outside, and upstairs with place; today, tomorrow, recently, soon, and later with time; hourly, daily, weekly, always, and never with frequency; and so on.
In the first example, an adverb of definite frequency modifies the verb; in the next three, an adverb of indefinite frequency modifies the verb; and in the last, the adverb modifies an adjective.
The sheer thought of walking and climbing for another forty minutes was frightening: the body had gone cold; we were hungry and exhausted; and there seemed to be no end to our ordeal. [You don’t need a semicolon when the items being separated don’t contain an internal comma.]
We had two options for food: one, cook now; two, trek further for an hour to the place where people from our next camp would come to receive us and have lunch with them.
In my last visit to U.S. and Canada, I visited Burlington, Vermont; Montpelier, New Hampshire; and Sherbrooke, Quebec.