Colon and Semicolon- Use, Rules with Examples

The colon and semicolon are some of the more complex punctuation. In this lesson you will learn about What is punctuation?, Why do we need punctuation?, Uses of colon, Uses of Semicolon with rules.

What is punctuation?

The English language has a system of symbols and signs known as punctuation.

Why do we need punctuation?

Punctuation shows us how to structure sentences and how each sentence should be read.


A colon consists of two dots, one above the other.

Uses of colon-

  1. It is used to introduce an example.
  2. It is used to separate independent clauses.
  3. It is used to provide an explanation.
  4. It is used to introduce a list.
  5. It is used to introduce a quotation.
  6. It is used to show emphasis.

Here is some uses of colon.

Let’s understand more deeply-

  1. A colon is used to introduce an item list or a quotation.

For example-

  • You know what to do: study.
    In this sentence emphasis is put on the word study because there is a colon before it. It can also make your writing more interesting.
  • I need to go: Delhi, Kashmir and Rajasthan.
    In this example the colon is used to introduce the list.
  • LOIS LOWRY wrote the book: “NUMBER THE STARS”
    In this example the colon is used to introduce a quotation.

2. Colon are also used to qualify a sentence by introducing meaning or an explanation.

For examples- She is very happy today: she had passed out her exam.
In this example the information after the colon explains why she was happy today?.

3. Colon is used to separate dialog from character. This is the case in a drama script.

For example- Ram: where are you going?
In this example the character is Ram. He says where are you going? So we place the colon after her name.


The semicolon is commonly misused by people. A semicolon consists of a coma with a dot above it.

Uses of Semicolon-

  1. It is used to join two or more sentences.
  2. It is used to separate items.
  3. Use semicolons in a serial list. Semicolons can be used to divide the items of a list if the items are long or contain internal punctuation.
  4. Use semicolons with conjunctive adverbs. When you have a conjunctive adverb linking two independent clauses, you use a semicolon.

Common conjunctive adverbs- however, otherwise, also, therefore, then, finally and likewise.

Semicolons are used to join two independent clauses without using a conjunction like ‘and’. Semicolon is stronger than a comma, but weaker than a full stop.

Let’s understand more deeply

  1. A semicolon is used to join two or more sentences that are linked. Remember that it can replace a conjunction.

For example-

  • He calls it a eraser; I call it an rubber.
    In this example both sentences either side of the semicolon are full sentences. They are called independent clauses. Both sentences relate to the same topic. We can link the two sentences using a semicolon.
  • My friend is the best; he always helps me.

2. A semicolon is also used to separate items in a list. This is when you need to use punctuation within phrases in your list.

For example: I want to travel to many places; I want to go Mumbai, Delhi, Kashmir, Darjeeling.

Semicolon Rule-
  1. Semicolons connect related independent clauses. A semicolon can join two closely related independent clauses.


  • I have two book; one is ‘EAST OF EDEN’ and another one is ‘THE SUN ALSO RISES’
  • Ram has gone to play cricket: Sam has gone to the ground.

2. First of all delete the conjunction when you use a semicolon. You should not use a semicolon and a conjunction.


With conjunction- My shirt is red, and my friend’s shirt is black.
With Semicolon- My shirt is red; my friend’s shirt is black.

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