Difference Between Comma and Semicolon

Main Difference – Comma vs Semicolon

Both commas and semicolons are punctuation marks that indicate pauses or breaks. However, a pause made by a semicolon is considered to be stronger than a pause made by a comma. This is the main difference between comma and semicolon.

What is a Comma

A comma (,) is a punctuation mark that indicates a break between different parts of a sentence. Commas make the meaning of sentences clear by separating words, phrases as well as clauses. Given below are some major functions of commas.


Commas can be used in lists. If there are three or more words in a list, commas have to be used to separate each word.

My mother, sister, brother-in-law, and nephew visited me.

He planted cabbages, carrots, and beans.

In Compound Sentences

Commas should be used when two independent clauses are joined with coordinating conjunctions.

I’m going home, and I won’t return.

He accepted by decision, but his acceptance had no effect on others.

Separating Clauses

Commas are also used to separate clauses in complex sentences. The meaning of these sentences would not be very clear without the commas.

If your house is for sale, I would like to buy it.

Having had lunch, they returned to the office.

It is also important to notice that clauses can be basically divided into two categories: restrictive relative clauses and non-restrictive relative clauses. The subordinate clause in restrictive clauses is not marked off by commas since they present information that is essential for the rest of the sentence. But, subordinate clauses in non-restrictive relative clauses are marked off by commas since they contain additional information.

My brother, who doesn’t like comedies, went to see a comedy.

This necklace, which is an heirloom, is made of rubies and pearls.

Separating Parts of Speech

As explained above, commas are used to introduce additional information to a sentence.

Jack, my brother’s friend, has a red convertible.

This rule, as mentioned above, is not applicable to certain situations.Difference Between Comma and Semicolon

What is a Semicolon

A semicolon also indicates a break or a pause, but this break is stronger than that indicated by a comma. At the same time, it is not final as the break indicated by a full stop. It is easy to remember the function of a semicolon by looking it since a semicolon looks like a comma over a full stop.

A semicolon is mainly used to combine two independent clauses without the use of a coordinating conjunction; therefore, a semicolon can create compound sentences.

I’ll visit you tomorrow; you can give me your final decision then.

She ran along the beach; the others followed her.

We also use a semicolon before words and terms such as however, therefore, in addition, otherwise, etc. when they introduce a complete sentence. These words are also generally followed by a comma.

Arjun is Indian; however, he lives in Canada.

Commas should be used to separate words and phrases; otherwise, the meaning would be unclear.Main Difference - Comma vs Semicolon

Difference Between Comma and Semicolon


Comma is a punctuation mark indicating a pause between parts of a sentence or separating items in a list.

Semicolon is a punctuation mark indicating a pause that is more pronounced than that indicated by a comma.

Punctuation Mark

Comma is represented by,

Semicolon is represented by ;


Comma indicates a pause between parts of a sentence.

Semicolon indicates a stronger pause than that of a comma.


Comma is used to separate different parts of the same sentence.

Semicolon is used to separate sentences.

Compound Sentences

Comma is used with the coordinating conjunction which connects the two clauses.

Semicolon is used to connect the two clauses. No conjunction is needed.Difference Between Comma and Semicolon - infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Behold the semicolon” by Satish Krishnamurthy  via

“Pause for thought” by Brett Jordan  via

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