San Jose City College

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  How the Semicolon is Used


 Use a semicolon...                                                                                    Need a dictionary? [Open][Close]

1. to separate two sentences that are closely related in meaning.
To Jill's abductors, recruiting suicide bombers was a righteous mission; they were doing God's work.
2. to separate two sentences when the second one begins with a transitional expression.
Her captors were very curious about her personal life; for example, they asked her about her job and her religion and wanted to know if her family drank alcohol.   (Another choice)When an initial transition is used, the semicolon or the period may be used.
Her captors were very curious about her personal life. For example, they asked her about her job and her religion and wanted to know if her family drank alcohol.
3. to separate items in a series when there are internal commas within the list itself.
One Monitor staff writer working on Jill's case had had experience in several hot spots: Afghanistan, where he covered U.S. military operations; Somalia, where he survived a machete attack by a mob; and the Rwandan capital, Kigali, during the genocide.
4. to separate items in a numbered list.
Fear is a basic human emotion that comes in many forms: (1) fear of perceived threats to one's well-being; (2) fear of difference; (3) fear of losing one's economic and social position; and (4) fear of losing one's cultural identity in a globalized world.
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