Colon vs Semi-Colon


Should I use a colon or semi-colon?

See example:

Countries are agitating for trade wars, cheap shale gas is calling into question the need for renewable energy, bankrupt companies litter the investment landscape, and oversupply issues plague the industry.
asked Nov 12 '13 at 15:53 Peter Pulikkan New member

2 answers


Like Patty, I know of no specific rule for the use of multiple semi-colons. But we can interpolate from the guidance given for single semi-colons. Most editorial guides (for formal writing) discourage semi-colons. For instances, the Chicago Manual of Style suggests that semi-colons be used sparingly ... to link two short but closely related independent clauses.  Taking that advise (for formal writing), we would not use multiple semi-colons in the same sentence.

link comment answered Nov 12 '13 at 18:53 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

This is a great question, Peter.  I'm not sure of the answer.


I do know that you won't be using a colon here.  A colon is used after a complete sentence to indicate you are about to give a list of something that adds information about what you just wrote.

The apartment has four rooms: a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a living room.


A semi-colon is used to separate two independent clauses.

The apartment has four rooms; they are all very small.


Two independent clauses can be joined with a comma and a coordination conjunction.

The apartment has four rooms, but they are all very small.


You have four independent clauses.  I can't find any rules that address this problem, which is probably why you are asking.  My suggestion depends on he purpose of the writing.  If it is informal writing, such as for a blog, I would leave it as you wrote it.  Putting all four together seems to add some oomph


If it is formal writing, such as a paper for school, I have two suggestions.

- Break it into three sentences.  End the first two clauses with periods, and keep the last two joined with the coordinating conjunction.

- add an introductory (and independent) clause so you can use a colon and this will become a list.

link comment answered Nov 12 '13 at 16:18 Patty T Grammarly Fellow

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