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!