Writing Tip of the Week
Have a question about the semicolon or colon? Use the 8 Tips on the Semicolon and Colon below as your guide.
1. In place of a period
Use a semicolon in place of a period.
2. In place of a comma
Use a semicolon in place of a comma, for it can serve as the same function--to keep your words and ideas from running together, making your writing easier to read.
3. To separate phrases
Use the semicolon to separate a series of phrases that have commas.
Jasmine, a great cook, uses fresh food in her meals; grows her own fruits, vegetables, and grains; and serves spring water, herbal tea and wine produced locally.
4. Between independent clauses.
Use a semicolon to join two or more independent clauses that aren't connected with a coordinating conjunction.
She woke up in the middle of the night; someone was at the door.
5. To introduce a list
Use a colon to introduce a list.
In her garden, Jasmine grew the following vegetables: pumpkins, green beans, tomatoes, lettuce, squash, potatoes, and cabbages.
6. As a formal introduction.
Use a colon to introduce an important quotation in a news story, for instance.
In his apology to the N.L. residential school survivors, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: "We share this burden with you by fully accepting our responsibilities and our failings--as a government and as a country."
7. After a salutation
Use a colon after the salutation of a business letter.
Dear Ms. Michalski:
8. Between numbers in time
Use a colon between the parts of a number that indicate time.
The movie begins at 6:30 p.m.
The restaurant reservation was set for 7:15 p.m.