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Semicolons or Commas: Which One Should You Use?

Writers need to be creative and produce engaging content that excites the reader. However, they also have to become very familiar with a very long list of grammar rules. This may sound like a relatively simple task. However, given the numerous exceptions to grammar rules that exist in the English language, it can often be very difficult.

Many writers find it difficult to know exactly when they should use semicolons or commas. You may find that you ask yourself the same question when you have to write documents. Well, there are some rules to help you learn when you should use these two punctuation marks.

 

Commas

Commas (,) are used to link two independent clauses in a sentence that contain a coordinating conjunction such as but, and, not, so, yet and for. You use this punctuation mark after the first independent clause in order to separate the two clauses. The comma should follow the word used to link the two parts of the sentence.

 

"It was very dark outside, but we still managed to find our way home."

"They realized it was very late, so they decided to start heading home."

 

Semicolons

Semicolons (;) are used to link two independent clauses that do not contain any coordinating conjunctions or connecting words. You should use a semicolon when both parts of the sentence can stand alone independently if you removed the punctuation mark.

 

"It was snowing very hard; we had a difficult time seeing the roads."

"They didn't want to eat their vegetables; they were sent to their room."

 

Semicolons should also be used whenever you use a conjunctive adverb to join two independent clauses. Conjunctive adverbs include: however, consequently, otherwise, therefore, moreover, thus and nevertheless.

 

"We were very tired; however, we managed to complete the marathon."

"They ran out of money; consequently, they had to borrow from their parents."