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Introduction to the semicolon

Paige introduces a piece of punctuation called the semicolon; this punctuation can link closely related independent clauses together in a sentence.  Created by David Rheinstrom.

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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Hello, grammarians. In this video, I'm gonna tell you about a piece of punctuation called the semicolon, which basically looks like a comma with a period on top of it. The semicolon has a few uses, but, the basic sort of standard use is to link two closely related ideas, that can stand on their own as individual sentences. So that might sound a little weird, you think there's two individual sentences, so they just have a period in between them, why do they need to be linked? Well, let's look at an example, and I'll show you what I mean. I'm a big fan of roller coasters, but if I weren't I could say something like, I don't wanna ride the Mega Sky Coaster; I'm afraid of heights, and that ride sounds terrifying. Now you notice, we have a semicolon here in between these parts, but let's take a step back, and just put a period here for a second. So now we have, I don't wanna ride the Mega Sky Coaster. Period. I'm afraid of heights, and that ride sounds terrifying. Exclamation point. These can work on their own, as different sentences. But they're so closely tied together. You know, I say I don't want to ride the Mega Sky Coaster, it's sort of telling us the back story as to why I don't wanna ride it. So we can use a semicolon in this instance to sort of tie the two sentences together into one. Now we can't go around tying every sentence to each other, we can't have everything just connected with a whole bunch of semicolons, it works in this case because these clauses are sharing such similar information. In this sentence, the two clauses that are directly connected are both independent clauses. This makes sense, because the semicolons job is to connect things that can stand on their own as sentences, but, a sentence isn't always just an independent clause by itself. One example of this would be, I wanna get a pet turtle, semicolon, however, I think it might scare my baby brother. This is an independent clause, and so is this, but the however in between the two of them can make things a little bit confusing. That's why it's important to note that you can have a semicolon, followed by an introductory adverb, or a transitional phrase. It doesn't just have to be independent clause, semicolon, independent clause, period. You can have other clauses and phrases and words in there. As long as the things that you're linking together can stand on their own as individual sentences. There's another place we can use semicolons, which is in a complex list. In this case, it's called a super comma, but we're gonna get to that in another video. So for now, this is how you use a semicolon to link parts of a sentence. If the words to the left and the words to the right of the semicolon can stand as individual sentences with a period in between them, you can put a semicolon there instead. You can learn anything, Paige out.