203: 3 Ways to Properly Use a Semi-Colon - Quick Copy Tip

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By Laura Petersen: Bestselling Author, Speaker, Pro Copywriter, Former Psychology Teacher, Laura Petersen, and M.A.E.D.. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Quick copy tip for you today about the uber fun punctuation mark called...the semicolon.

What does it look like? It’s like a colon on the top but a comma on the bottom.

Often misused, here are the three main ways to use it correctly when a colon, comma, or period just won’t do!

WAY #1

To combine two independent clauses (aka sentences that could stand on their own as complete sentences) when their topics are highly related and you want them to sit a bit closer than if separated by periods.

For example…

Sentence 1: Writing books is fun and effective.

Sentence 2: I plan to write and publish more this year.

Because these two sentences stand on their own and are highly related, I can combine them with a semicolon!

Writing books is fun and effective; I plan to write and publish more this year.

A comma wouldn’t work because they are independent clauses and a period would make them feel too separate.

WAY #2

Use in a list of things that already contain commas for extra clarity. For example, say that you are listing off places you have lived. Naturally, we must separate cities and states with commas. So, we need to separate each city and state combo from each other with semicolons.

i.e.

I have lived in Orange County, California; Phoenix, Arizona; Rome, Italy; and Regensburg, Germany.

WAY #3

Use a semicolon before words or phrases like “however,” “for example,” and “therefore” when they begin a complete sentence (aka are before an independent clause).

Here’s an example:

“I published a book; however, it was a simple journal and was fast to create.”

[same as way #1 but those words/phrases may help you remember]

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There you have it: a fun refresher on the usage of semicolons.

If you want a silly video that may make you laugh about semicolons, search on youtube for “lonely island semicolons” (or watch below).

Watch until the end though…

Then let me know if you had a chuckle on social media. I’m @laptoplaura

Signing off until next time when we’ll find more ways to write copy that pops!

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To access full show notes, please click here.

217 episodes