Semicolons with Conjunctions
Using Semicolons with Conjunctions (e.g., "And," "But," and "Or")You can use a semicolon with a conjunction:
- In a compound sentence with lots of commas.
- In a list with lots of commas.
Semicolon with a Conjunction in a Compound SentenceWhen a conjunction (e.g., "and," "but," "or") merges two sentences into one, it should be preceded by a comma. For example:
- Mark trained as a solicitor, and Paul trained as a firefighter. (The conjunction "and" has merged two sentences into one. The sentences have now become independent clauses of a single compound sentence.)
- Mark, 23, trained as a solicitor; and Paul, Mark's younger brother, trained as a firefighter.
Another Example of a Semicolon with a ConjunctionHere is another example of a semicolon used in a compound sentence (i.e., a sentence with at least two independent clauses):
- In the '60s, there were dozens of buzzards along the 7-mile trek; but, due to the decline in vermin, only 2 adults live in the area at present.
In the 1960s, there were dozens of buzzards along the 7-mile trek.
Due to the decline in vermin, only 2 adults live in the area at present.
Another Example of a Semicolon with a ConjunctionHere is another example:
- Mark, Dawn, and Sally adore boiled spare ribs; but Julia, a staunch vegetarian, leaves the room when they are on the menu.
Semicolon with a Conjunction in a ListWith a simple list, the list items are separated by commas. For example:
- John Smith, Janet Jones, Fred Bloggs, and John Doe
- John Smith, the lawyer; Janet Jones, the CFO; Fred Bloggs, the accountant; and John Doe, the interpreter
Read more about the Oxford Comma.
When using semicolons as separators, you should use the semicolon with the conjunction. Here's the logic: If your list was complicated enough to warrant using semicolons, then you should maintain them throughout the structure of your list. (The semicolon before the conjunction in a list is sometimes jokingly called the "Oxford Semicolon," but - even so - it is far less contested than the Oxford Comma. If you've used semicolons as separators, use the "Oxford Semicolon."
Another Example with an "Oxford Semicolon"Here is another example. This time, the list items contain commas and conjunctions, making the semicolons even more important for clarity:
- New York, Washington, and Boston in the East; Houston, Dallas, and Atlanta in the South; and Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego in the West