Conundrums: The Mystery of the Semicolon

By December 1, 2015Newsletter

These are some quirks of daily communication that we’ve noticed at d.trio marketing group. In this section we’ll be finding, exploring and clarifying communications conundrums in short snippets.

Do you use semicolons in your writing? If you answered no, you are not alone. The purpose of a semicolon is widely misunderstood and many of us prefer to avoid them. However, if you want to take your writing skills to the next level (or at least bring them back to where they were when you took grammar in junior high), following is a summary on the proper use of the mysterious semicolon.

Semicolons have three primary uses:

1) Semicolons help you connect closely related sentences/independent clauses.

Example: Grandma still rides her Harley motorcycle; her toy poodle balances in a basket between the handlebars.


2) Semicolons link clauses connected by conjunctive adverbs or transitional phrases.

Example: My father does not approve of his mother cruising around town on a Harley motorcycle; however, Grandma has never cared what anyone thinks.


3) Semicolons help to avoid confusion and link lists where the list items contain commas.

Example: On a Harley motorcycle, my grandmother and her poodle have traveled to Anchorage, Alaska; San Francisco, California; and Tijuana, Mexico.


To see additional examples with fun visuals, check out

Grammar Bytes
The Writing Center – Univ. of Wisconsin – Madison


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