Harriet Diamond - The Pause That Refreshes

By Harriet Diamond

creator of harrietdiamond.net


Do you ever use semicolons?  Many writers avoid them because they are misunderstood.  The semicolon is a stronger pause than a comma, yet not as strong as a period.  Take a risk and add a few to your writing.


The semicolon connects two complete, related thoughts:


More and more people are careful about spending; many items that were once considered necessities are now thought of as luxuries.


The trees are so colorful in the fall; every scene is worthy of a photograph.


The semicolon creates order in a sentence replete with commas:


The company president, John Howard; the vice president, Ofra Daniels; and the management team left for a retreat.


My favorite writers use colorful images, analogies, and strong language; and they make each page come alive.


Even stronger:  My favorite writers use colorful images, analogies, and strong language; they make each page come alive


Some words that connect two complete thoughts are preceded by a semicolon and followed by a comma.  These usually demonstrate cause and effect and include therefore, consequently, nevertheless, however, and inasmuch as.


I never trusted him in business; however, I always found his ideas interesting.


The meeting has been rescheduled; therefore, everyone can leave early.


These same words, when used in the middle of a thought, are set off by commas:


I, however, never trusted him in business.


The meeting, therefore, has been rescheduled.


Look at something that you’ve recently written.  Can you add variety by replacing a period and/or a comma + and or but with a semicolon?

Grammar in Plain EnglishWriting the Easy WayE-Z EnglishExecutive Writing American StylePerfect Phrases for Writing Company Announcements

Harriet Diamond is the author of Grammar in Plain English, E-Z English, Executive Writing American Style, Writing the Easy Way, and Perfect Phrases for Writing Company Announcements.  Her website is harrietdiamond.net