Is your Sunday feeling incomplete because you haven’t read anything about punctuation today? This explanation of the semicolon should help.
Another way to think about the semicolon is as a stand-in for the comma and conjunction combination (replacing “, and” or “, but”). The phrases on each side of the semicolon must be independent clauses (i.e., complete thoughts), and no conjunction is required. For example:
- The trial results were entered into the database; all records were coded to preserve anonymity.
- Ten patients were admitted with disease symptoms; two died within 48 hours.
Pro-tip—If all else fails, using a semicolon is a great way to get around starting a sentence with a number:
- The cohort consisted of 82 patients with Alzheimer’s disease; 15 patients were under 55 years of age.
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