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The Semicolon

The Semicolon

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The Semicolon

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  1. The Semicolon ;

  2. First Semicolon Rule • Use a semicolon between closely related independent clauses not joined with a coordinating conjunction (such as and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet). If the clauses are closely related and the relation is clear without the conjunction, they may be linked with a semicolon instead.

  3. Example • Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice. --H.L. Mencken

  4. Second Semicolon Rule • Use a semicolon between independent clauses linked with a transitional expression.

  5. Conjunctive Adverbs • Accordingly, also, anyway, besides, certainly, consequently, conversely, finally, furthermore, hence, however, indeed, instead, likewise, meanwhile, moreover, nevertheless, next, nonetheless, now, otherwise, similarly, specifically, still, subsequently, then, therefore, thus

  6. Transitional Phrases • After all, as a matter of fact, as a result, at any rate, at the same time, even so, for example, for instance, in addition, in conclusion, in fact, in other words, in the first place, on the contrary, on the other hand

  7. Examples • Many corals grow very gradually; in fact, the creation of a coral reef can take centuries.

  8. Note the Difference! • Most singers gain fame through hard work and dedication; Evita, however, found other means. • Most singers gain fame through hard work and dedication; however, Evita found other means.

  9. Third Semicolon Rule • Use a semicolon between items in a series containing internal punctuation.

  10. Example • Classic science fiction sagas are Star Trek, with Mr. Spock and his large pointed ears; Battlestar Galactica, with its Cylon Raiders; and Star Wars, with Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Darth Vader.

  11. Another Example • Do you use different methods of introducing quotations? Experiment with varieties of punctuation: the humble comma (,)—excellent for introducing short, simple quotations; the more casual and expressive dash (--)—superb for a quotation that follows logically and compellingly from your insightful analysis; the dignified colon (:)–very good for incorporating a ponderously important, perhaps lengthy quotation.

  12. Avoid common misuses of the semicolon • Using a semicolon between a subordinate clause and the rest of the sentence

  13. Example • Unless you brush your teeth within ten or fifteen minutes after eating, brushing does almost no good.

  14. Another Common Mistake • Using a semicolon between an appositive and the word it refers to

  15. Example • The scientists were fascinated by the species Argyronetaacquatica, a spider that lives underwater.

  16. Another Common Mistake • Using a semicolon to introduce a list

  17. Example • Some of my favorite film stars have home pages on the Web: Uma Thurman, Billy Bob Thornton, and Halle Berry.

  18. Another Common Mistake • Using a semicolon between independent clauses joined by and, but, or, nor, for, so, or yet

  19. Example • Five of the applicants had worked with spreadsheets, but only one was familiar with database management.