Commas, Colons and Semi-Colons

Commas and Colons and Semi-Colons – what gives?

Many folks don’t know the difference between commas and colons and semi-colons, and so I’m here to help you understand them 🙂

What’s with the COMMA??

A comma is … well, a comma! It looks like an apostrophe, but is positioned at the bottom of characters (letters of the alphabet) rather than at the top.


It’s a comma, sure, but how hard can it be to know *where* to put it??

The easiest way to describe a comma is that it is like taking a *pause* in a sentence, and it also separates items in a list.


* If you don’t like Vegemite, you probably won’t like anchovies!

* I really like tap-dancing, but I definitely don’t like boot-scooting or line-dancing!

* Don’t forget to pack your shoes, socks, shorts and t-shirts. Have you got the maps, binoculars and water bottles??

What the heck is a COLON??

[Apart from being a medical term …]

A colon is two dots which introduces a list.


Are you one of the many people who are driven to distraction by this little piece of punctuation?

Fear no more! Let me help you sort this out once and for all! Look at these examples: [and yes, I just used a COLON!]

* When we did our trip to Mars, we saw amazining planets: Pluto, Venus, Mars and Uranus!

* To make a cake you need to get the ingredients ready in the kitchen: flour, sugar, eggs, milk.

*Follow these steps:
1. do this
2. then this
3. and then this.

You can also use COLONS to introduce an explanation or a definition.

Explanation example:

* I’ll tell you what we’re going to do: we’re going to drive to the top of Australia!

Definition examples:

* Joie de vivre: French term meaning “joy of life”.

* Press any key: computer terminology which means press any single key on the keyboard.

Semi Colons ROCK!


A semi colon is one dot above a comma, often used to join together two independent clauses [phrases or statements]. In other words, it joins two clauses which could be independent sentences.

Did you wonder why we even *have* these? Do you scratch your head in total confusion?

Let me help you understand *how* and *when* to use semi colons …

The semi-colon can only join independent clauses [phrases]; it can only be used where a period [or fullstop] could also be used. It is used to separate closely related independent clauses [phrases].


Karen plays tennis; Angela reads books.

You can pretend there is either the word *and* or *but* in place of the semi-colon.

So, did you learn something about commas and colons and semi-colons today? I sure hope so 🙂

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