While the semicolon can seem mysterious and intimidating, punctuation use follows precise rules, and these rules can be learned!
Broadly speaking, punctuation marks are used to demarcate structural elements in a sentence; to signal what kind of utterance a sentence is expressing (declaration, question, exclamation); to create possessive constructions and contractions; and to indicate when someone is speaking or when a source is being quoted verbatim (as well as where a quotation has been modified). All of these functions combine to help the reader understand your meaning.
There’s no need to guess whether a comma, apostrophe, or other punctuation mark fits in a sentence, and learning to use these tools correctly gives you more confidence in your writing, removes guesswork for you and your readers, and increases your credibility as a clear and technically adept writer.
The following index makes searching for a specific topic easier and links to the appropriate place in the sequenced material. We think we have most of them, but please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if we are missing something!