The Semicolon: It’s Not a Strong Comma
It’s true. The semicolon is used for more things than just winking in text. ;)
One of the main uses of a semicolon is to separate two independent clauses.
The semicolon isn’t like a comma; it’s really more like a period. Using a semicolon like a comma can definitely create some trouble.
First, let’s take a step back and explain the difference between an independent clause and a dependent clause. An independent clause expresses a complete thought. An independent clause is usually called a sentence. Conversely, a dependent clause is a group of words that may contain a subject and verb but does not express a complete thought.
I ran quickly to escape the zombie I encountered on Main Street.
Although I ran quickly to escape the zombie I encountered on Main Street,
Can you see the difference?
The first example is a complete sentence, and the second example isn’t. Of course, we also know the first one has a happy ending, and we aren’t so sure about the second one.
So now that you understand what an independent clause is and that a semicolon connects two independent clauses, we can begin to look at how the semicolon can be used.