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Semicolons ( ; ) are used for two main purposes: to separate lengthy or complex items within a list and to connect independent clauses. They are often described as being more powerful than commas, while not quite as a strong as periods (full stops).
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see punctuationpunctuation
[Lat.,=point], the use of special signs in writing to clarify how words are used; the term also refers to the signs themselves. In every language, besides the sounds of the words that are strung together there are other features, such as tone, accent, and pauses,
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a punctuation mark consisting of a period above a comma (;). A semicolon is used between the clauses of a conjunctionless compound sentence if the clauses are lengthy and contain commas, and between the clauses of a complex sentence if they are fairly long or contain commas. A semicolon is also used between lengthy homogeneous parts of a simple sentence, particularly if one of them contains commas. Finally, a semicolon is used between collaterally subordinated clauses if they are long, contain commas, and are not joined by coordinating conjunctions.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.



Common: ITU-T: semicolon; semi. Rare: weenie; INTERCAL: hybrid, pit-thwong.
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In programming, the semicolon (;) is often used to separate various elements of an expression. For example, in the C statement for (x=0; x<10; x++) the semicolons separate the starting value, number of iterations and increment).
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References in periodicals archive ?
(My free translation) This is an example of one of Mofolo's paragraph sentences which he breaks up with four semicolons. For the sake of clarity I suggest we henceforth call them "semicolon phrases".
We might think that the differences of duration between, say, a semicolon and colon, or even semicolon and full stop, are so small as to be nugatory; but I believe that though the absolute difference between the marks might be small, the relative differences might matter a great deal, possessing significance disproportionate to their absolute values.
comma splice = independent clause + comma + independent clause In Standard American English, a comma is not the appropriate punctuation mark for this situation; the clauses should be separated by a period or joined by a semicolon. It's true that we occasionally see comma splices in published writing.
Thank you for always knowing the correct place for a comma, footnote, or semicolon. I would also like to thank Andy Dorchak, our incredibly helpful research librarian.
In other words, according to most schoolmasters studied, those punctuation marks considered of primary importance for the composition and reading of a text are the comma, the colon, the full stop, the note of admiration and the note of interrogation; some of them also include either the semicolon (3) or the parenthesis, and other ones both.
In my industry, the semicolon is the prince of punctuation.
All contestants must answer the following true-or-false question: "Half a colon is referred to by doctors as a 'semicolon.'" (Made it, baby!)
Back at the office, he made a few calls--to writer Frank McCourt, to linguist Noam Chomsky, to Lynne Truss, the author of "Eats, Shoots & Leaves." The Google machine helped him turn up Famous Semicolon Wielders in History.
Meanwhile, Truman Capote's comment that stylists obsess over "the placement [sic] of a comina, the weight of a semicolon" (5) weighs quite differently in Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Dictee, where literalized punctuation--marks are rendered as words--captures "the struggle for speech" that Cha's displaced protagonist must undergo (16).
In his chapter on the semicolon, for example, he illustrates how it can "balance sentence length and rhythm."
Nor did I advocate 'losing, the semicolon, merely moving it to a less-central position, e.g., swapping it with the comma or dot (period, full stop).