Semicolon

Posted by David Khoirul
Semicolon consists of a comma with a dot above it. This is a semicolon (;). Professional writers use this punctuation mark a lot in their masterpices.

In Indonesia, however, many people misuse semicolon and treat it the same way as colon, a punctuation mark consisting of two dots, one above the other (:).

In a computer keyboard, both colon and semicolon are located in the same button. People often see the two punctuation marks -- because they occupy the same button -- as two interchangeable marks, and people may use either of them. Thus, they mistakenly write a sentence with a semicolon.

Saya punya dua kucing luar negeri yang sangat cantik; Roki dan Rubi.


In the above example, the proper punctuation should be a colon, not a semicolon, because the writer introduces a list of things, i.e., her two cats.

When I asked Pak Abu, a Bahasa Indonesia teacher at SMK M 8, about semicolons, his reply was: "A semicolon has the same function as the word 'or'. You can add a semicolon to your sentence to replace the word 'or'."

Listening to his answer, I thought for a while. OR?? Does the semicolon in the sentence below can be translated as "or?"

I love Facebook; its features are great.


If the semicolon in the above sentence means "or," then it can be interchangeably rewritten as: I love Facebook or its features are great.

It sounds so awkward, doesn't it?

In fact, a semicolon is very different from a colon and it cannot be used to replace the word "or." It is more complex than that. Personally, semicolons are my favourite -- in addition to dash.

A semicolon is used to join together two closely connected independent clauses. See this example:

Catur drives a Mercedes; David drives a Chevrolet


We can make this sentence become two sentences, actually. But the first independent clause (Catur drives a Mercedes) has a close relationship with the second (David drives a Chevrolet). We cannot separate them with a full stop, nor can we add a comma between them. Full stop is too strong to break the two clauses. And comma is too weak. In short, we can say that a semicolon is weaker than a fullstop and stronger than a comma.

When we use semicolon, it is often because we want to make the reader think about the relationship of the clauses. This is useful in many situations, such as when writing cautiously, ironically, or humorously.

A semicolon can also be used with transitions like therefore, additionally, however, in contrast, and nevertheless.

Hundreds of people cross the border from US to Canada every day; therefore, it is not possible to search all of them


Now that you know the correct use of semicolons, find them in your writings or blog posts. Make sure you've used them correctly. Happy writing!

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