One of the biggest issues some student have, including master’s students, is when to use a semi-colon or a colon. Here’s the scoop.
If you have two complete sentences (also known as independent phrases), you can put them together into one sentence using a semi-colon. Do not stick the word “and” in there- just combine the two sentences and put a semi-colon in between them. It could not be more simple.
Do not join two independent clauses with a comma; that is wrong (this sentence, however, is right). If you want to use the word “and,” then do not use a semi-colon. An example of all of these comments is seen below:
I want to go out to dinner. I would like to see a movie afterwards.
I want to go out to dinner; I would like to see a movie afterwards.
I want to go out to dinner, and I would like to see a movie afterwards.
All of these sentences are correct. Using a semi-colons correctly will impress the professor; using them incorrectly will irritate her.
So when do you use a colon? You can use them for lists of things, such as the following:
We are taking the following items with us: tents, sleeping bags, and toiletries. Please note that I did not capitalize the word after the colon, It is not a proper noun. An exception to this rule is if you are using a quotation immediately after the complete sentence in which you placed the colon. Here is an example:
The pastor announced: “Everyone, please come into the the gym after dinner.”
Hope this helps!