May Blog:

Use of the comma, Oxford comma, semicolon and colon

Comma (,)     

  • Use to separate words and word groups in a simple series of three or more items.
  • Use to separate two adjectives when the order is interchangeable.
  • Many writers will use a comma to run two independent clauses together instead of using a period. This results in the dreaded ‘run on sentence’ (a comma splice).
  • If the independent clauses are joined by connectors such as and, but, etc… put a comma at the end of the first clause.

Oxford Comma (,)

  • This comma is optional. It can be used before the word ‘and’ at the end of a list.

Semicolon (;)

  • Used between independent clauses when a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) is omitted.
  • Also used between two independent clauses linked by transitional expression (accordingly, consequently, for example, nevertheless, so, this).
  • The semicolon can also be used in lists with internal commas. In this usage, the semicolon acts as a sort of super-comma.

Colon (:)

  • Used to introduce a list. Do not, however, use a colon when the listed items are incorporated into the flow of the sentence.
  • Between independent clauses when the second explains or illustrates the first.
  • The colon can be used to emphasize a single word at the end of a sentence.

Thank you to Grammarbook and Punctuation Guide for help with this blog.

Keep writing.


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