If you're like we were, you're only semi-sure how to use semi-colons. It happens. But never fear. We semi-read a bunch of grammar books and we can totally tell you how to use them now.
|5th Grade||Language Arts|
|Elementary and Middle School||5th Grade|
Well, just like those 300 screwdrivers has their purpose, so do the different
punctuation marks…and it’s very important you don’t mix them up. [Flathead screwdriver appears by a philips screw]
So today’s lesson is about how to use commas and semicolons. Try not to, uh…screw it up. [Drill screws semi colon]
One common place to find commas and semicolons is in lists.
In order to use them in a series, there need to be three or more words or phrases in the sentence.
Then, before the last word or phrase, we use a conjunction to end the list. [Coop discussing commas and semicolons]
Common conjunctions include "for," "and," "nor," "or," "yet," "so,” and “but.”
Yes, we said “but.” Giggle it up.
When it comes to lists, commas are our default. [Girl typing on a computer]
Take this sentence: "Emma doesn't like white chocolate spinach or coconut."
We've got three items in our list – white chocolate, spinach, and coconut –
so we're ready for some commas.
All we've gotta do is slip in a comma after each item, except the very last one, which [comma inserted after each item]
gets a period, and we're done.
We definitely want to separate these three items because together they would taste terrible. [Girl in the kitchen with white chocolate, spinach, and a coconut]
Let’s just say that’s the last time we ever let our pet chimp Bobo fix us a smoothie.
Semicolons can also be useful for lists, but they tend to crop up when we've got commas
swinging all over the place. Say we're taking a trip from Los Angeles, California, to Phoenix,
Arizona, to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
We could try to say: "Next month I'm going to Los Angeles, California, Phoenix, Arizona,
and Santa Fe, New Mexico." But with all those commas, things are getting, um…a little bit crazy up in there.
To help clarify the situation, we separate each item with a semicolon instead of a comma. [Locations split with semi colons]
Commas and semicolons can also be useful in direct address…which works in a few different ways.
Consider this sentence: "Let's eat Cousin Jimmy." This would be fine if you're suggesting
cannibalism – okay, well, grammatically fine, maybe not morally fine - but that's
probably…hopefully… not what you meant. [Boy laughing]
On the other hand, if we put a comma after eat, now we're doing some direct address.
addressing "Let's eat" to Jimmy. Basically, we're saying: "Jimmy, it's time to eat."
Which is much better news for Jimmy. [Jimmy sat at a table with a plate of food]
We do something similar when we're answering a question that's directly addressed to us.
Writing "Yes I was at the pool" isn't quite enough. [Girl in a swimming pool]
The "yes" needs to be followed by a comma, like so:
The exact same thing happens with exclamations like "well," or "why," or "yikes" or "hey":
just follow that exclamation with a comma. Like: "Yikes, there’s a bear in my shoe!” [Bear appears from inside a shoe]
Don’t ask us how it got there. We’re not in the “deciphering impossible situations” business.
If the direct address is a complete thought, we can use a semicolon instead of a comma.
Our sentence about the pool is a great candidate for this treatment.
"Yes" is a complete thought, so we can feel free to use a semicolon instead of a comma.
What about our sentence with an exclamation? "Yikes” is a vivid, self-contained reaction… [Bear appears from a shoe]
…so a semicolon fits just fine. Once we know the ins and outs of commas and
semicolons, we'll always have the right tool for the job. [Man walking and carrying a writing tool box]
You might even find yourself saying: "Yikes; what a well-placed semicolon!"
You probably won’t. But you might. [Semi colon falls off the wall]