It's time for another episode of Punctuation 101, where we talk about something that seems super boring but will really help you out as a writer more than you care to admit. Are you ready?
Today's lesson: The Semic
Easy peasy. You never capitalize the first word after a semicolon.
Where to use a semicolon
1. A semicolon is used to separate closely related independent clauses not joined by a coordinating conjunction.
Basically, use a semicolon if you want to glue two complete sentences together that are similar.
Ex: "Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness." -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ex: Ten finalists performed to be the next American Idol; only two finalists remain.
Ex: Mr. Sanchez is a successful chef; however, he won’t eat his own cooking.
Rules for this rule
An independent clause is a set of words that creates a complete sentence. If using a semicolon to join two clauses together and one or both aren't independent clauses (complete sentences), a semicolon is the wrong choice and you should use a comma instead.
You also can’t use a semi colon if you have a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or) between the sentences.
If you put a comma where a semicolon should be, you will have created a comma splice, which is an icky error. Be sure to look carefully at all your clauses. If they are complete sentences, you need a semicolon OR a comma paired with a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or). If at least one of them is an incomplete sentence, use a comma.
2. A semicolon is also used between items in a series that contain internal punctuation.
That means, if you're listing things, and you use some commas along with one of the items, that messes up your list. In that case, you can use semicolons to separate your items and commas in each item where you need them.
Ex: I ate berries; toast; eggs, hashbrowns, and bacon; and a smoothie for breakfast.
Ex: Some fantasy novels that are big right now are Harry Potter, staring the boy wizard with a lightning bolt scar; Eragon, where a young boy becomes a dragon rider; and the timeless Chronicles of Narnia, in which a group of children enter a magical land through a wardrobe.
Get it? Got it? Good.