Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. My name is Alisha. Today, I'm going to talk about how to use the semicolon. A semicolon is a punctuation mark that we use a lot in English writing. So, let's take a look at two ways that we can use the semicolon.
Okay, the first way I want to talk about is to use the semicolon as a way to separate two parts of a compound sentence. If you watched the video we did about how to use commas, you might remember what a compound sentence is. But, just to remind you or if you haven't seen the video, a compound sentence is a single sentence, one sentence that is made of two complete ideas. So, there are two ideas together in one sentence. So, a compound sentence could be two individual sentences but they are linked together maybe by a coordinating conjunction or as we'll see by a semicolon. So, we can use semicolons to separate the two parts of a compound sentence. But, we don't need to use a word like "and," "but," "or," "for," "so." Those words we don't need to use those. So, let's look at an example here.
Okay, my first example is, "We think you would be a great fit for our team; you have a lot of experience and can work at a fast pace." So, here, there are two complete ideas. Idea one, "We think you would be a great fit for our team," is one idea. Idea two, "you have a lot of experience and can work at a fast pace." So, there are two ideas here in this sentence. We've separated the ideas with a semicolon here.
Let's look at one more. "He really likes her; she's smart and funny." "He really likes her," is one idea. Idea 2, "she's smart and funny." There are two ideas here. We connected them with a semicolon. So, a question then, why should I use a semicolon? Can I just use it instead of a period or what's the point of using a semicolon? Actually, it's a good idea to use a semicolon for two points or two ideas which are very closely related. They have a very close relationship. So, if you're just giving extra information or you just want to explain an additional point, maybe it's okay just to use a comma and a coordinating conjunction. But, if your two points have a very close, a special relationship, you can show the closeness of that relationship by using a semicolon. So, these two examples show that ideal 1 and idea 2 are very closely related so we can show that with a semicolon.
Then, another tip, another hint for how to decide if you can use a semicolon or not. If you can replace your semicolon with a period, you can use a semicolon there. So, by that, I mean, we can look at the sentence, if it's a full sentence, a complete sentence. "We think you would be a great fit for our team." Period. "You have a lot of experience and can work at a fast pace." Another period. If you can use a period in the place where you're thinking about using a semicolon, it's okay to use a semicolon. So, please think of that, that point, that tip. If you can finish the sentence and it's a grammatically correct sentence, you can replace that with a period, you can use a semicolon in that place as well. But, of course, this requires that you have a thorough understanding of grammar and you understand how to make a complete sentence. So, please think about that if you're ever unsure about when to use the semicolon.
Okay, the second point I want to talk about today is quite different from the first point, actually. This is if you're writing, for example, an academic paper or perhaps an essay, something like that. This is really to help you make clearer writing, to help your writing be a little bit easier to understand. So, you can use a semicolon to separate items in a list. So, if you're writing something and you have kind of an introduction to a list. And then, a few different points in your list that are very complex, you can use a semicolon to show where each point stops. Let's take a look at this.
I have a long sentence here. My example here is, "There are a lot of unhealthy foods I love." So, here is my introduction to my list. I'm introducing it with a colon here, actually. "There are a lot of unhealthy foods I love." So, #1, item number one in my list, "1) pizza, which has lots of cheese and bread;" Then, I have a semicolon here. This marks the end of one point. "2) ramen, which has many varieties;" And, semicolon. "and, 3) burritos, which are often greasy." So, here I have three points in a list about foods. In this case, unhealthy foods I love. But, because I have a comma after each point, I'm introducing some extra information about each point which I talked about in the comma video we did, it may be unclear to a person reading this. If I use commas after each point, it might seem a little unclear to the person reading. So, by using a semicolon here instead of a comma, it makes it clearer to the reader that this point has finished. I'm done talking about this point. So, this is one thing to keep in mind if you're introducing long lists of information, several points in one sentence, as in this case. You can use a semicolon instead of a comma to help your reader to understand a little bit better.
So, these are just two ways that you can use semicolons. You might also see people using semicolons with words like, "however," for example, but that might be something I'd talk about in another video. For now, you can consider these and also if you haven't you should check out the comma punctuation video. This might have some relating points or relating concepts that you can check out. So, take a look at that. And, I hope that this was useful for you, too.
If you have any questions or comments though, please make sure to let us know in the comment section below this video. If you liked the video, please make sure to give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our channel if you haven't already. Check us out at EnglishClass101.com for more good stuff, too. Thanks very much for watching this episode and I'll see you again soon. Bye.

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