Compound sentence

A semicolon is used in a compound sentence. A compound sentence has two principal clauses, and the ideas are related. The two clauses are of equal grammatical value. The semicolon is placed between the two principal clauses.

It was time to commence the performance; all the guests were in attendance.
This was the best day of my life; all of my financial problems disappeared when I won the lottery today.

Note: Do not use the semicolon if the two principal clauses are not related. That will create a cat and dog sentence, which is a grammatical error. Instead, use a period after the first sentence or combine the two sentences.

 Thomas was the leader of the group; he loved chocolate cookies.
 Thomas was the leader of the group. He loved chocolate cookies.
 Thomas, the leader of the group, loved chocolate cookies.

Before certain words

The semicolon is used before these words when they are part of a compound sentence: nevertheless, moreover, in addition, consequently, however, thus, hence, therefore, and otherwise.

The student was late for class; therefore, he was given a detention.
The father wanted to purchase a computer for his family; however, there wasn't sufficient money in his savings account.

Test your skill

Now that you have studied the rules of punctuation, it is time to test your knowledge of these rules. Click on the button to the right to take a test of 20 sentences in which you apply these rules.

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