PSLE English

When should you use a semi-colon?

Notes from the video ‘Diffusion Academy| PSLE English Punctuation|Semi-colon‘ :

What is a semi-colon?

Semi-colon is a punctuation mark with a period on top of a comma.

There are four ways you can use a semi-colon.


Firstly, you can use semicolons to connect related independent clauses.

What are related independent clauses?
An independent clause is a clause that can stand alone as a sentence.

Related clauses are clauses that share a close or logical connection.

Let’s look at this sentence.

“I have a big test tomorrow; I can’t go out.”

The sentence is made up of two independent clauses separated by a semi-colon.

These clauses can exist alone as a sentence.

A semi-colon is used to separate the two sentences because they share a logical connection. If one has a major test tomorrow, one needs to prepare for it and can’t go out to have fun.


Semicolons can also be used to replace conjunctions.

Conjunctions are words that joins words, phrases and clauses together. Examples of conjunctions include: and, if, but.

Let’s look an example of how you can use semicolon to replace the conjunction in a sentence.

In this sentence, “I looked outside, and it was raining.”, the conjunction is used to join the two clauses together.

We can replace the conjunction “and” with “semi-colon”.

“I looked outside; it was raining”

One thing you may have noticed from this example is that the word after the semi-colon is not capitalized. The exception is when the word is proper noun. In the first example we used ‘I’, which is a proper noun, after a semi-colon. So, we can see that ‘I’ is capitalized in this sentence.


Thirdly, a semicolon can be used for dividing items in a list.

In this example:

I love chocolate cake; banana split; and small, sweet and juicy grapes.

The items in the list – Chocolate cake, banana split and small, sweet and juicy grapes – are separated by semicolons.


Lastly, a semi-colon can be used together with a closing bracket as a winking face emoticon.

Other related content:

Whom vs Who
Effect vs Affect
In to VS Into



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