The Lonely Island Explains Semicolon Usage

The Lonely Island Explains Semicolon Usage

Office warning: while it’s a lyric video, the odd swear word pops up. Pedantry warning: Solange repeatedly pronounces ‘semi’ as sem-MY, which isn’t correct usage in Australia.

Here’s a quick reminder of when you should use a semicolon (;) rather than a colon (:). A colon is used to separate off the main part of a sentence, or to precede a list. A semicolon is used to link together closely-related ideas. If you’re not sure, try using shorter sentences and avoiding them altogether. Accuracy matters.

Lifehacker’s Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.


  • Thats terrible and so american it hurts. The rest of the world say Semi (Sem-eee) not Sem-iiiii)
    Its like a grade school ‘don’t forget to brush your teeth’ thing .

  • And both nations typically say “this data”, “that data” etc. It should be “these” or “those” as data is plural; datum is the singular.

    (just when you thought there was ample pedantry on this page 😉

  • This isn’t how you use a semicolon! They should only be used to separate complicated items in a list or series:

    Several fast food restaurants can be found within the cities: London, England; Paris, France; Dublin, Ireland; and Madrid, Spain.

    Or to establish a close relationship between two clauses that might also be written with a fullstop in between them:

    I told Kate she’s running for the hills; I wonder if she knew I was joking.

    Single words cannot be written as self-contained clauses.

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