Semicolons are used to mark a break between two parts of a sentence. Usually the two parts that are separated in this way are finite clauses, which could stand as sentences in their own right. You use a semicolon because you want to show that there is a close link between them:He loved chasing women, but did not like them; it was the chase that excited him. If you write this as two separate sentences, you change the meaning slightly by increasing the separation between the two ideas:He loved chasing women, but did not like them. It was the chase that excited him. Some writers try to use a comma instead of a semicolon for this purpose. This is a mistake. The comma is weaker and when we are reading it does not ‘stop’ the eye in the same way as a semicolon:He loved chasing women, but did not like them, it was the chase that excited him. The ‘comma splice’, as this is called, is best avoided.ListsIf a list contains items that are quite long, semicolons can be used instead of commas to separate them:Weeds may reach the lawn in various ways: as seeds blown by the wind; carried by birds; brought in on muddy footwear, machinery, or tools; or concealed in unsterilized soil or badly made compost used for top dressing. See also commas, colons, and semicolons.