How to Use a Semicolon in a Compound Sentence

Cozy Grammar with Marie and Thomas

In the Basic Cozy Punctuation Course, one of the topics both Marie and I explore is how to use a semicolon in a compound sentence.

Semicolons have a way of confusing young learners (and not-so-young learners) because their appearance can seem a bit confusing.

Just look at it!


The semicolon looks sort of like a comma, but also sort of like a colon, but also with a period hanging in the middle of the air. No wonder people hesitate to use it!

But a semicolon in a compound sentence can be a powerful way to show that two ideas are closely related.

Knowing how to use semicolons well can take your writing to a new level.

Take a peek at Marie's introduction to semicolons from the Basic Cozy Punctuation Course and then I'll share a simple way to remember what, exactly, semicolons do.

As you can see, the key is to think of a semicolon as indicating a longer pause than a comma, but not as long as a period.

That's why Marie likens them to yield signs. They tell us to pause or come to a rolling stop if necessary.

How to Use a Semicolon in a Compound Sentence

I love that Marie likens punctuation marks to language traffic signs. Not only does it help us in thinking about what punctuation marks do in a sentence, but it also helps us to see them as signs, not just a set of random seeming symbols.

In fact, the very parts of a semicolon can help remind us what semicolons do.

Let me show you what I mean. As I explain in my own video from the Basic Cozy Punctuation Course, semicolons are one of my favorite ways as a writer to indicate that two separate ideas or sentences are closely related. Take a peek!

Taking Time to Slow Down

I hope the next time you look at a semicolon, you'll see how the comma and the period hidden within it can remind us that it indicates a longer pause than a comma, but not as long as a period.

The semicolon is also a good reminder that even in the middle of the rush of life and ideas, it can be vital to stop and slow down sometimes.

At the end of one of our recent Ask Cozy Grammar sessions, I shared a poem of my own that speaks to the importance of taking time to rest.

As a bonus this month, I thought I'd share the poem with you here:

As night falls on Sunday
the floor swept the rug clean
I can almost imagine
the whole world at peace
without oceans dying out
whole peoples disappearing
fire and smoke rising
as we race to the finish
where all that we know
will be finished

how can one sleep in peace

and yet we must sleep
to keep rising awake
able to walk and
work another way
where resting at evening
as the sun falls away is
peace is enough
is a world in itself
working to be whole
once more

From The Safety of Edges, Marrowstone Press, 2019.

Music that Brings Ideas Together

Marie founded Cozy Grammar on two key ideas:

No one fails if they have the tools.

We learn best in an atmosphere of calm attentiveness.

In fact, we could join these two ideas in a single compound sentence:

We succeed when we have the tools we need; we learn when our minds are calm and awake.

This is why one of the tools that Marie uses in all of her courses is a soundtrack of classical music specially chosen for its capacity to help us learn.

We are thus delighted that Marie's third album, Bach & Me, is now available for download. Here's a quick introduction:

Learn more about Bach & Me.

We'll be releasing a new album from Marie each month for the next seven months, so be sure to sign up for our newsletter for the latest updates.

Thank You!

Thank you for joining us this month, and don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

You can contact us here; we'll answer your questions as quickly as we can.

By the way, did you notice that example of a semicolon in a compound sentence?

I thought you would; those who read till the end learn the most!

I hope this finds you and yours happy, healthy, and calm!

We all wish you the very best.



Marie's Language Consultant
The Cozy Grammar Series of Courses