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How to Use A Semicolon

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How to Use A Semicolon - Page Text Content

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FC: How to Use a Semicolon by Katie Christ

1: How to Use A Semicolon | Correct: Incorrect: | Connect two independent clauses Replace A Period Separate long lists with many commas | Use with conjunctions (and) Connect dependent clauses or a dependent clause with independent clause. Replace a comma | ;

2: Correct Examples | 1. They don't like to talk about the Mafia to strangers here; it's an embarrassing family concern, none of our business, a private tragedy. National Geographic, Feb. 2009 | 2. Ironically, that safety net is also their undoing; it buffers them from understanding the need to make serious structural reforms. The New Yorker, Jul. 2012 | Both of these examples are correct. This is because in each example the semicolon is being used to connect two independent clauses. A period could replace the semicolon and the sentence would still be correct.

3: Correct Examples | In example 1 the use of a semicolon before the list instead of a comma makes the list easier to understand. Here is another example of how a semicolon can organize a list. | 3. Gene Kelly dominates the show with his chesty, loose-armed dancing; Jean Hagen is the tin-voiced leading lady who runs afoul of the microphone; Debbie Reynolds plays a bright-eyed young thing; and Donald O'Connor, who turns even the smallest moments into a musical-comedy routine, is Kelly's best friend. The New Yorker, Jul. 2012 | Although this example is correct in the beginning, it uses and "and" after the last semicolon which is considered incorrect.

4: Incorrect Examples | 4. My favorite punctuation mark for years was the dash; and for years, I have moved on from that point. The New York Times, Jul. 2012 | 5. Some days I regret it; some days I don't. Instyle Magazine, Aug. 2012 | Examples 4 and 5 are incorrect. Example 4 uses the conjunction "and" after the semicolon. Semicolons cannot be used with conjunctions, only commas. Example 5 is incorrect because the part after the semicolon is a dependent clause. Semicolons can only connect independent clauses. Instead of using a semicolon, they should have used a comma.

5: Incorrect Examples | 6. State Sen. Stewart Greenlead, R-Montgomery; state Rep. Tom Murt, R-Montgomery; Ward 7 Commissioner Stan Ropski; and Ward 5 Commissioner Rebecca Gushue. Mike Gerber Letter, Summer 2012 | Example 6 uses the semicolons to separate a list of people. In that way, it is used correctly. However after the last semicolon, "and" follows. Since "and" is a conjunction, it can not be used with a semicolon.

6: Incorrect Examples | 7. The new programs include Readiness to Practice, which prepares foreign-trained therapists for their licensure exams in the United States; a Health Policy Certificate for practicing clinicians who want to engage fully in health policy at all levels; and the Musculoskeletal Certificate, which prepares students to sit for the orthopaedic clinical specialization examination. Arcadia University Magazine, Fall 2012 | Example 7 is correct for the first semicolon, but incorrect in the second because the conjunction "and" follows the semicolon. Conjunctions cannot be used with semicolons.

7: Incorrect Examples | 8. You see; the price for this very special cheese tends to be very high. Trader Joe's Flyer, Aug/Sept. 2012 | Both of these examples are incorrect because the part before the semicolon is a dependent clause. Semicolons can only connect independent clauses. | 9. But here is the problem; most people are in a permanent stage of inflammation and this unwanted inflammation is both the cause and driver of most chronic diseases Sun Live, Aug. 2012

8: Correct Examples | 10. There is concern that a lot of their friends, a lot of their family are out of work; they may be out of work themselves. Parade Magazine, Aug. 2012 | 11. I love Colorado; I've always thought that could be a possibility for me. Instyle Magazine, Aug. 2012 | Examples 10 and 11 are correct because the parts before and after the semicolon are independent clauses.

9: 12. Armstrong's moonwalk is one of those events that brought the world together; most people who are old enough to have seen it can tell you exactly where they were when it happened. ABC News, Aug. 2012 | Correct Examples | 13. Convert the dough onto the grill; remove the paper. Food Network Magazine, Sept. 2012 | These examples show the correct use of a semicolon; they could be replaced by a period and still make sense.

10: Incorrect Examples | 14. Following the luncheon, we were able to tour the campus: the new playing field; tennis courts; the swimming pool; new Athletic Hall of Fame room with its honor wall, athletic mural and various trophies; the art center where we saw two of Mary Avakian Freericks' lovely water colors in the BYOA display; and our new Commons with all of its "green" aspects. Arcadia University Magazine, Fall 2012 | 15. Consider these: Golden Crabmeat Purse, filled with jumbo lump crab meat and cream cheese; Veal Escallops, sautéed with leeks and onions; and Angel Hair Pasta & Jumbo Shrimp with fresh basil, garlic and sesame sauce. Guide to Montgomery County, Summer 2012

11: Examples 14, 15, and 16 are incorrect because after the very last semicolon "and" is used. Semicolons cannot be used with conjunctions. | Incorrect Examples | 16. Learn how to: develop a project management plan; build structures and timelines; identify stakeholders and manage stake holder interaction; manage scope and resources; estimate costs; and create a budget. Temple University Course Catalog, Fall 2012 | 17. After all, he was the outgoing one; she, the quiet one. MS Focus, Summer 2012 | Examples 16 and 17 are also incorrect because at least one part of the sentence is a dependent clause; dependent clauses cannot be used with semicolons

12: Correct Examples | 18. My parents first met Mytinger in 1931 when we were living in Portland, Oregon; she did charcoal portraits of them that hang in my home office today. Smithsonian Magazine, Jun. 2006 | 19. The Garden Chef Series events are free; parking fees apply. Food Network Magazine, Sept. 2012

13: Correct Examples | 20. Housing recoveries from deep recessions typically add 1.0 to 1.5 percentage points to the annual rate of GDP growth; we expect about a 0.5-percentage-point contribution through 2013 T. Rowe Price Report, Summer 2012 | All of these examples demonstrate the correct use of the semicolon. The semicolon connects two independent clauses and could be correctly replaced by a period.

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  • By: Katie C.
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  • Title: How to Use A Semicolon
  • Katie Christ's AP English Summer Project
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  • Published: about 4 years ago

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