Skip to Main Content
OASIS Writing Skills


This guide includes instructional pages on punctuation.

Semicolon Basics

Semicolons are punctuation marks used to separate parts of sentences. Use a semicolon in the following instances.

  1. Two independent clauses. Use a semicolon when separating two independent clauses that are not joined by a conjunction.
    Example: Jones (2014) argued that intelligence was fixed; Smith (2011) argued that ability could be fluid.
  2. To join two independent clauses with a conjunctive adverb (e.g, "however," "therefore," "consequently," "nevertheless," "furthermore," "moreover"). Note that there is a semicolon before the conjunctive adverb and a comma after it.
    Example: This structure joins two independent clauses; moreover, it creates cohesion in the text by showing how one idea relates to another.

    Example: I had difficulty obtaining a large number of participants; however, I still reached saturation in the interviews.
  3. Series. Use a semicolon to separate elements in a series that already contains commas.
    Example: Amy ordered three pizzas: one with pepperoni, sausage, and mushrooms; one with bacon, ham, and green peppers; and one with tomatoes, olives, and red peppers.
    Example: Many have claimed that the sky is blue (Hawking et al., 1994; Lima, 2003; Steinberg & Jordan, 2001).

For more information about semicolons, see the following links:

Also watch the Mastering the Mechanics 2 and 3 webinars. Semicolon usage is frequently discussed in these two webinars.

In addition, refer to APA, Section 6.4 for more information about semicolon usage.

Semicolons Video Playlist

Note that these videos were created while APA 6 was the style guide edition in use. There may be some examples of writing that have not been updated to APA 7 guidelines.

Didn't find what you need? Email us at