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FutureStarrA Use of a semicolon
When a semicolon is used, the sentence is not finished. Usually a semicolon should be used when the sentence is certain, but meaning has been lost by the writer and needs to be given to the reader. When a sentence is not certain, the reader has to make their own interpretation, so they should be free to express that in the way they see fit.A semicolon isn’t the only thing that can link two independent clauses. Conjunctions (that’s your ands, buts, and ors) can do that too. But you shouldn’t use a semicolon and a conjunction. That means when you use a semicolon, you use it instead of the ands, buts, and ors; you don’t need both. Here’s a hint: if you used a comma and an “and” to link two related ideas, think of the period (you know, the top part of the semicolon) as a replacement “and.”
These words sometimes show up in other parts of a sentence; therefore, the semicolon rule only applies if it helps the conjunctive adverb join two independent clauses. (See what we did there?) This conjunctive adverb rule is similar to the conjunction rule. In both cases, check that the two ideas are independent clauses that could stand on their own as sentences. If so, then you’re grammatically good to go as far as the semicolon is concerned. An independent clause is a group of words that can stand on its own (independently)—it is a complete sentence. Semicolons can be used between two independent clauses. The semicolon keeps the clauses somewhat separate, like a period would do, so we can easily tell which ideas belong to which clause. But it also suggests that there may be a close relationship between the two clauses—closer than you would expect if there were a period between them. Let’s look at a few examples. Here are a few fine independent clauses, standing on their own as complete sentences: Another reason to use a semicolon is to draw attention to how related your two clauses are. The semicolon in our example sentence highlights that the reason you can't go out tonight is that you have a big test tomorrow. You wouldn't write, “English is my fifth period class; I can't go out tonight,” because those two main clauses have nothing to do with each other. I can't think of a single reason why English being fifth period would mean you can't go out tonight.
Finally, you use a semicolon when you use a conjunctive adverb or transitional phrase to join two main clauses.If you want to check whether or not you’re using a semicolon correctly, just read the two clauses on their own and see if they make sense. If they don’t, it’s a miss. In the first example, a semicolon is used to introduce a list; it should be a colon. The last two examples attempt to connect a dependent clause with an independent clause using a semicolon; it should be a comma. If you’re still not sure you used punctuation correctly, try running your paper through our grammar checker tool. A group of words containing a subject and a verb and expressing a complete thought is called a sentence or an independent clause. Sometimes, an independent clause stands alone as a sentence, and sometimes two independent clauses are linked together into what is called a compound sentence. Depending on the circumstances, one of two different punctuation marks can be used between the independent clauses in a compound sentence: a comma or a semicolon. The choice is yours. (Source: owl.purdue.edu)