Colons (:), semicolons (;), and dashes (-) can all be used to join two related ideas. Using these punctuation marks properly will help to add variety to your comparisons.


Use a colon to draw attention to the words that come after it. These words may be a list, or a restatement or description of something before the colon. The words before the colon must be a complete thought.

  • WRONG:Someday sloppy people will make a family scrapbook containing: newspaper clippings, postcards, locks of hair, and the dried corsage from their senior prom.
  • RIGHT:Someday sloppy people will make a family scrapbook containing the following: newspaper clippings, postcards, locks of hair, and the dried corsage from their senior prom.

Use a semicolon to indicate that two main clauses (sentences) are closely related.

  • Not a paper will go unturned; not a rubber band will go unboxed.

**What comes after the colon does not have to be a complete clause, but what comes after a semicolon does.


Use a semicolon before adverbs like however, nevertheless, moreover, therefore, in fact, or for example, but not before coordinating conjunctions (and, or, nor, for, but, so, yet); since the conjunction already brings together the two clauses it joins, the use of the semicolon is excessive.

  • Sloppy people live in Never-Never Land; for example, they swear that someday they will go through their wardrobes, but they never, never will.

**A dash could replace the colon or semicolon; however, use dashes sparingly, when you want to place extra emphasis on particular words. They encourage disjointed writing and are not as precise as a colon or semicolon.

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Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "How to use Colons & Semicolons," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2019,
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jadin gallegos
jadin gallegos
2 years ago

Can you help me with semicolon please?