Using Semicolons and Colons
Definition
What's the difference between a semicolon and a colon? When and why are they used?

If you have trouble remembering the difference between semicolons and colons, you're not alone. These punctuation marks are just tools that you use to help the reader understand your sentence structure. Each has a specific function. Once you understand what each is designed to do, you won't have trouble recognizing or using it.

This tutorial will teach you all you need to know about semicolons and colons. To begin, make sure you know the difference between the two:

A semicolon looks like a period on top of a comma.
A semicolon is used to divide up the sentence--to signal the end of one part and the beginning of another part. It's more than a comma, but less than a period, so it combines the two into a single punctuation mark.





A colon looks like one period on top of another.
A colon says that you have introduced what will follow. Think of a colon as a pair of eyes, looking ahead to what's coming next.

Now let's look at how these punctuation marks are used, starting with the semicolon.