OWL at Purdue Logo

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/). When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice at bottom.

Punctuation - Semicolons, Colons, and Parentheses

This resource was written by Tony Cimasko.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on September 25, 2012 .


This resource on punctuation covers semicolons, colons, and parentheses.

A number of other punctuation marks are used less frequently, but still play important roles in English writing.  Semicolons (;) are used to combine sentences into larger ones.  Unlike the use of commas to combine very short sentences, semicolons are used for combining relatively longer sentences.  Semicolons are often used for combining sentences that are very closely related:

Colons (:) are used at the beginning of lists of several or more items, or as a substitute for “it is, “they are,” or similar expressions:

Parentheses () are used to say something that is important to the main message you are writing but is not an immediate part of it, something that would interrupt the flow of your writing if you didn’t keep it separate from everything else:

Copyright ©1995-2017 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.