I'm not 100% sure about how to use semicolons. I have seen writing as such:

The words he spoke, man could not speak; the work he did, man could not do instead of him.

Take John as an example; if he didn't save his money, then he couldn't have bought a car.

This is because the work he did was only a transitional one and was no means the word of life that could lead people to make newer progress; the words he spoke were only useful temporarily after all.

It sounds like the semicolons are right, but I'm not too clear about how, when, or why to use them. I've also seen semicolons used to separate a list... why?

I'd like to add a few words of caution about semi-colons.

It's true that some people say they are OK to separate items in a list, but that's only if the items are long and complicated. Please, don't write I have several things on my shopping list: an apple; a loaf; a cake; a lettuce. Also, I recommend that if the items are long and complicated, they are probably worth explaining in separate sentences.

Generally speaking, I seriously recommend that, as an English learner, you should use no more than one semi-colon per year! Don't start to think that they are just an everyday alternative to a period, or your writing will become full of them and will seem very odd.

Best wishes, Clive
I would use a semi-colon if I wanted to indicate a slightly longer pause than a comma.

It's useful when you have several long coordinate clauses; the longer pause allows the content of each clause to be "digested" before you move on to the next.

It's also useful where the connection between clauses requires a little thought (e.g. where a clause contrasts with the previous one, or contains an inference).

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Semicolons have two uses. The first is to separate items in a list after a colon. The second is how you've used it. If you can replace the semicolon with a period, then it is okay to use a semicolon. Note that it doesn't necessarily work the other way around.
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