semicolon

semicolon
semicolon
The semicolon is the least confidently used of the regular punctuation marks in ordinary writing, and the one least in evidence to anyone riffling through the pages of a modern novel. But it is extremely useful, used in moderation. Its main role is to mark a grammatical separation that is stronger in effect than a comma but less strong than a full stop. Normally the two parts of a sentence divided by a semicolon balance or complement each other as distinct from leading from one to the other (in which case a colon is usually more suitable):

• Most of his tools are old, handed down from his father and grandfather and uncles; here they are, handle upward, in tubs of oil and sand to stop them rusting —Blake Morrison, 1993.

It is also used as a stronger division in a sentence that already contains commas:

• What has crippled me? Was it my grandmother, frowning on my childish affection and turning it to formality and cold courtesy; or my timid, fearful mother, in awe of everyone including, finally, me; or was it my wife's infidelities, or my own? —Angela Lambert, 1989.


Modern English usage. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Semicolon — Sem i*co lon, n. The punctuation mark [;] indicating a separation between parts or members of a sentence more distinct than that marked by a comma. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • semicolon — SEMICOLÓN s. v. punct şi virgulă. Trimis de siveco, 05.08.2004. Sursa: Sinonime …   Dicționar Român

  • semicolon — 1640s, a hybrid coined from L. semi (see SEMI (Cf. semi )) + Gk. kolon limb, part (see COLON (Cf. colon) (1)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • semicolon — ► NOUN ▪ a punctuation mark (;) indicating a more pronounced pause than that indicated by a comma …   English terms dictionary

  • semicolon — [sem′i kō΄lən] n. a mark of punctuation (;) indicating a degree of separation greater than that marked by the comma and less than that marked by the period: used chiefly to separate units that contain elements separated by commas, and to separate …   English World dictionary

  • Semicolon — A semicolon ( ; ) is a conventional punctuation mark with several usages. The Italian printer Aldus Manutius the Elder established the practice of using the semicolon mark to separate words of opposed meaning, and to indicate interdependent… …   Wikipedia

  • semicolon — n. to place, put in a semicolon * * * [ˌsemɪ kəʊlən] put in a semicolon to place …   Combinatory dictionary

  • semicolon —  The semicolon is heavier than the comma but lighter than the period. Its principal function is to divide contact clauses that is, two ideas that are linked by sense but that lack a conjunction. For instance, You take the high road; I’ll take the …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • semicolon —    The semicolon is heavier than the comma but lighter than the period. Its principal function is to divide contact clauses that is, two ideas that are linked by sense but that lack a conjunction. For instance, You take the high road; I ll take… …   Dictionary of troublesome word

  • semicolon — UK [ˌsemɪˈkəʊlɒn] / US [ˌsemɪˈkoʊlən] noun [countable] Word forms semicolon : singular semicolon plural semicolons a punctuation mark (;) that is used to separate words in a list, or two parts of a sentence that can be understood separately …   English dictionary

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