Semicolons and commas: A few simple guidelines
SummaryThis article provides some simple punctuation guidelines.
When writing very short sentences one after the other, an unpleasant stop–start effect can result. For example:
- This is John. This is Kate. This is Sam.
- Sample one worked. Sample two failed.
Four guidelinesNote: In the examples below, "[words]" represents any sequence of words that could stand by themselves as a sentence. For example, "he missed the ball" or "today is Monday".
Similarly, "[joining word]" represents a word chosen from the left column.
|1.||[none]||[Words] ; [words] .|
- This is John; this is Kate; this is Sam.
- Sample one worked; sample two failed.
|[Words] ; [joining word] , [words] .|
- It's just what we need; thus, our search is over!
- Sample one worked; however, sample two failed.
- He missed the ball; therefore, he loses four points.
|[Words] ; [joining word] [words] .|
- Choose a common name; e.g. John or Mike.
- Sample one worked; i.e. it yielded a positive result.
|[Words] , [joining word] [words] .|
- I am Karen, and this is my sister Sue.
- Sample one worked, but sample two failed.
- Today is Monday, so tomorrow is Tuesday.
NotesYou can find more information on the difference between i.e. and e.g. here.
Note also that if, as, because and then are usually not preceded by a comma. For example, we write:
- Sample one worked because sample two failed.
- Sample one worked, because sample two failed.