Year 9, Week 1: Colons and Semi-colons

Year 9, Week 1: Colons and Semi-colons

Revise the following information on semi-colons and colons from Year 7:

Colons can be used to join two sentences together when the second sentence explains something about the first sentence.

e.g. Several people have been sent to hospital: they have all received life-threatening injuries.

Jordan had to go home: he had been voted out.

 

You can think of the colon as replacing the connective because if that helps you.

Semi-colons can also join two sentences. They need to be two equally important sentences.

 

I play football; I also play rugby.                                                        (and)

I play football; my brother plays rugby.                                             (whereas)

The teacher was already talking; I ran into the classroom.               (so)

You can think of the semi-colon replacing the connective and, whereas and so if that helps you. Although a connective can be used in these examples, a semi-colon can make your writing more sophisticated and effective.

Capital letters after colons and semi-colons

In some forms of English, people use a capital letter after a colon or semi-colon and you may have seen this. You should only use a capital letter after a colon or a semi-colon if you would normally use a capital letter for it, even in the middle of a sentence e.g. a proper noun like ‘I’ or ‘David’.

Look at the two examples below:

I play football; I also play rugby.                    A capital letter would be needed anyway.

I play football; my brother plays rugby.         A capital letter is not needed.

 

Year 9, further uses of colons and semi-colons:

Colons are used to introduce an example, like in the sentence above.

Colons are also used to introduce lists.

e.g. To do list:

– buy groceries

– go into bank

Semi-colons can be used in lists where there are extra pieces of information that require commas. For instance, if you wanted to add extra information to the following simple list:

When I grow up, I want to visit Paris, Rome and Sydney.

Further commas would be confusing:

When I grow up, I want to visit Paris, France, Rome, Italy and Sydney, Australia. x

Or When I grow up, I want to visit Paris, which has the Eiffel tower, Rome, which has the Colosseum and Sydney, which has the Sydney Harbour bridge.                                   x

Instead, we use semi-colons to help separate the main items of the list.

When I grow up, I want to visit Paris, France; Rome, Italy; and Sydney, Australia.

When I grow up, I want to visit Paris, which has the Eiffel tower; Rome, which has the Colosseum; and Sydney, which has the Sydney Harbour bridge.

We actually put the semi-colon before the ‘and’ in these examples. This is to help clarify meaning. We do not usually put a semi-colon before and!

 

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