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How To Use Colons And Semi-Colons
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Semi-colon is used to
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How To Use Colons And Semi-Colons
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A colon introduces an explanation or elaboration of what has come before it: like this. To use a colon, you should be satisfied that the two sections of your sentence aren't complete sentences in their own right, and the information in one section explains the other section:Africa is experiencing a terrible problem: perpetual drought.Or:Perpetual drought, poverty, corruption: these are all terrible problems Africa is experiencing.
Colons are also used to separate a book title and sub-title, as in: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead mans chest.
You can use a colon to indicate a ratio, "The man/woman ratio is 1:4!!" In formal writing this isn't normally acceptable. So the sentence would be written as: There are four women to every man here.
A semi-colon links two complete sentences which work as sentences on their own; it indicates that there is some sort of relationship between them.
Using a semi-colon is always a literary (stylistic) choice, for instance:It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.Could also be written as:It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times.Or:It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
To use a semi-colon, you should be satisfied that the sentences are too closely related to be separated by a full stop, and one sentence isn't a direct explanation of the last. You can do this in list form too:1. The sentences are too closely related to be separated by a full stop; 2. One sentence isn't a direct explanation of the last.
There is one circumstance where you can use semi-colons to break up a very long sentence, to help it be understood. Consider the following sentence: In Chad, where the famine still continues, western aid workers, in spite of their efforts, are unable to operate, and the people, starving, and desperate, are flooding to refugee camps.You can use a semi-colon instead of comma to mark the most important breaks in the sentence, just to aid comprehension, like so:In Chad, where the famine still continues, western aid workers, in spite of their efforts, are unable to operate; and the people, starving, and desperate, are flooding to refugee camps.
Some words require a semi-colon before their use. It is important to remember though that certain joining words are more appropriate to commas:Women's conversation is cooperative, while men's is competitive.Or:Women's conversation is cooperative; however men's is competitive.Words like however, thus, therefore, consequently, nevertheless and meanwhile should all be preceded by a semi-colon, while words like and, but, yet and while should be preceded by commas.
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