Semicolons and Colons

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Semicolons in a Series

When the items in a series themselves contain commas, separate the items with semicolons. Incorrect: We visited Erie, Pennsylvania, Buffalo, New York, and Toronto, Ontario. (Confusing. Semicolons needed to make clear distinctions.) Correct: We visited Erie, Pennsylvania; Buffalo, New York; and Toronto, Ontario.

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Colons with Appositives

Use a colon instead of a comma to introduce an appositive at the end of a sentence for emphasis. Appositives may be words, phrases, or clauses. If it is an independent clause, that clause begins with a capital letter. Correct: He was watching his favorite type of television show: a baseball game. (A comma is

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Special Cases Using Colons

There are half a dozen special uses for the colon. 1. Numerical expressions of time. Example: 5:31 p.m. The colon goes between the hour and minute. If seconds are noted, a colon goes between the minute and second. Example: He ran the marathon in 2:14:33.2. (Two hours, fourteen minutes, and thirty-three point two seconds.) Example:

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Semicolons with Clauses

Semicolons are used to separate independent clauses in three different cases. 1. When there are no conjunctions separating the clauses. Incorrect: I like you, John likes you, too. (Semicolon needed) Correct: I like you; John likes you, too. 2. When the clauses are separated by a conjunctive adverb or other parenthetical expression set off by

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Colons with Lists

Use a colon before a list when the list is preceded by a complete independent clause. Never use a colon to separate a preposition from its objects or a verb from its complements. Some form of the word follow usually indicates a colon before the list. Correct: John has all the ingredients: minced clams, milk,

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