Commas & Semicolons


Use a comma and coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, or so) to join two independent clauses (complete sentences).

He wanted to work, but no job was available.

Independent, + coordinating conjunction + independent

No comma is used when joining a dependent clause or phrase with a conjunction.

He wanted to work but could not find a job.

Independent + coordinating conjunction + dependent (no subject)

When starting with a subordinating conjunction, use a comma after the dependent clause.

Because he could not find a job, he was unable to pay his rent.

The subordinating conjunction because makes the first part dependent.


Semicolons join two independent clauses that are related.

A semicolon can be used to fix a run-on sentence; it is used to join clauses without a conjunction.

Semicolons can be used to connect two related sentences; however, sometimes you may need to use a subordinating conjunction (like however).


Colons introduce a list or a clause that expands or explains.

The expedition had three goals: explore, seize land, and find gold.

He earned what he worked so diligently for: a promotion to the corner office.