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When to use a semicolon

When to use a semicolon

When to use a semicolon

A common misconception is that when you type a semicolon, you’re required to make a pause.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.” You need a comma plus something to avoid a comma splice. That something can either be the right conjunction or the period that turns a comma into a semicolon. If semicolons can link independent clauses that would otherwise have a period or a conjunction between them, that means they can demonstrate contrast, too. This is part of the same rule, but the conjunction in question is “but” instead of “and.” In other words:

NEED

The short answer: copy editors, professional writers, and you—if you’re savvy. “If words are the flesh and muscle of writing, then punctuation is the breath, and a good writer will make good use of it,” says Benjamin Dreyer of Penguin Random House, author of the forthcoming book Dreyer’s English. The semicolon is one of his favorite pieces of punctuation, and it was one of America’s great authors, Shirley Jackson, who inspired the admiration. “Shirley Jackson loved her semicolons,” says Dreyer. “I think that’s all the defense they need. The first paragraph of The Haunting of Hill House—one of the great opening paragraphs I can think of—includes three of them.”

You need a comma plus something to avoid a comma splice. That something can either be the right conjunction or the period that turns a comma into a semicolon. If semicolons can link independent clauses that would otherwise have a period or a conjunction between them, that means they can demonstrate contrast, too. This is part of the same rule, but the conjunction in question is “but” instead of “and.” In other words: 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.” 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.” (Source: www.grammarly.com)

USE

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.” Emoticons will never replace a solid knowledge of the English language. But they can sure spice it up from time to time. 😉 The semicolon is a good punctuation mark to have in your back pocket. Or on top of your parenthetical smile. So whether you’re using it to whip up a good complex sentence or to give someone a wink, now you know how to do it right.

The trick for using a semicolon correctly is simple: there must be standalone sentences on either side of the semicolon punctuation mark. Remember that a semicolon is used to create a relationship. The two sentences should not be completely unrelated or the punctuation mark is being used incorrectly, as is shown in the following example: 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. 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. (Source: www.quickanddirtytips.com)

 

 

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