Capitalization After Semicolons: What Are The Rules?

Capitalization after semicolons: is that the right choice? And what are do the rules say? Learn more about this below!

There are a lot of challenges when it comes to American English language or British English grammar. For example, using semi-colons can be a significant issue. If you can use semi-colons correctly, you will make a good impression on your reader. You can position yourself as an authority, and you will hold their attention.

At the same time, the rules for capitalization after a semi-colon can be difficult to understand. Should you use a capital letter as the first letter under APA Style or the Chicago Manual of Style, or other style guides regarding the use of the semi-colon? 

In general, you should not capitalize the first word after a semi-colon unless that word is a proper noun. Instead, you should use a lowercase letter even if it feels like there is a full stop before the following sentence.

What are some other rules you need to know about semi-colons? How do you know when you should capitalize a certain word? Learn more below!

The semi-colon is a perplexing grammatical oddity that many writers either use incorrectly or shy away from. That’s a real shame. If you understand the rules you can deploy the semi-colon more effectively and help readers enjoy your writing more. Here’s what you need to know.

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When Should You Use a Semi-colon?

Capitalization after semicolons

There are several situations where you may want to use a semi-colon. These include: 

  • Use a semi-colon if you are trying to link two independent clauses that are closely related. if you are using a semi-colon to join two ideas, then you are giving those ideas equal position. For example: Some people like the New York Jets; others like the New York Giants.
  • Use a semi-colon to link two independent clauses that are connected using a transitional phrase or a conjunctive adverb. For example: However people choose to watch their sports, individuals are allowed to decide for themselves; as a result, many people are passionate about their sports teams. 
  • Use a semi-colon between items in a series or list if those items contain commas. For example: In general, there are two ways to watch sports: with a TV or computer, which are easily accessible; or using a mobile device and tablet, which can be more challenging but is convenient on the go. 
  • Use a semi-colon between multiple independent clauses that have been joined by a coordinating conjunction if the clauses are somewhat lengthy. For example: Some people prefer to watch TV programs using a TV, tablet, or even a laptop computer; but other people, due to their own preferences, choose to watch TV programs using an iPhone or Android phone.

This is a brief overview of how you should use a semi-colon in your writing. So, should you capitalize the first word after a semi-colon? 

What About Capitalizing Words After a Semi-colon?

Capitalization after semicolons
You should capitalize the first word after a semi-colon if that word is a proper noun

In general, you should not capitalize words that follow a semi-colon. The only time you should capitalize words that follow a semi-colon is if that word is a proper noun. 

For example, you should not capitalize the first word after a semi-colon in this situation: I would love to come and visit you; however, I am not able to get time off work. 

On the other hand, you should capitalize the first word after a semi-colon in this situation: During my trip, I visited a wide variety of cities. This includes Toronto, which is located in Canada; Beijing, which is located in China; and Paris, which is located in France. 

This should help you figure out when you should capitalize words following a semi-colon. If you need help figuring out when you should capitalize words following a semi-colon, you may want to use an automatic grammar tool that can help you.

Then, when you see how the grammar tool is working, you should be able to figure out when you should capitalize words following a semi-colon and when you should not. 

Final Word On Capitalization After Semicolons

There are a lot of confusing rules in English grammar, and it can be easy for people to get tripped up. Semi-colons are not used very often and writing, so it is easy to forget when you should capitalize words after them. 

In general, you should not capitalize the first word after a semi-colon. On the other hand, you should capitalize the first word after a semi-colon if that word is a proper noun. If you can use an automatic tool to help you, you can learn more about when you should capitalize certain words in your writing, regardless of whether it is a full sentence or incomplete sentence. You might also find our overview of what is Chekhov’s Gun useful.

Want more? Check out our guide to semi-colon rules.

If you still need help with fixing issues like these, a good grammar checker saves hours of time. It’ll help you find and fix odd capitalization issues fast. You can also set rules about capitalizations and house style.

To find out more, read our Grammarly review 

FAQs About Capitalization After Semi-Colon

Do you need to capitalize the word “however” when it is used after a semi-colon? 

However is one of the most common words used after a semi-colon; however, you should not capitalize it, as shown in the example we just used. Only capitalize a proper name if it is the first world in the first sentence after a semi-colon.

What is a semi-colon example? 

You could use a semi-colon to separate clauses. For example, you may make a statement such as: I have a final exam in my biochemistry class tomorrow; I cannot go out with you tonight. Use a semi-colon to join two independent clauses that are closely related in thought.