4. Complicated Series
Comma Splice - the Villain
In case you’re not familiar with the comma splice, here’s the rap sheet on this common error. A comma splice occurs when two complete sentences are joined together using a comma; the sentence is SAVED by using the semicolon. For example:
- Comma Splice was last seen fleeing the crime scene, Super Semicolon was hot on the trail. (Wrong)
- Comma Splice was last seen fleeing the crime scene; Super Semicolon was hot on the trail. (Correct)
You ask, “Why not just use a period?” When periods and commas can usually handle the job, the semicolon is overlooked. However, the semicolon can add a little style and clarity when conveying balance or contrast - a great advantage.
Discover how you can use Semicolons with these tips!
1. Separate Independent Clauses
- Semicolons are used to separate two independent clauses when a period is too strong:
- Sit down. I’ll get it. (This command appears very serious and implies conflict.)
- Sit down; I’ll get it. (This command is softened and implies generosity, i.e. “Don’t trouble yourself; I’ve got this.”)
2. Conjunctive Adverbs
- Semicolons can spice up conjunctive adverbs (e.g. accordingly, consequently, however, etc.) when used transitionally between clauses of a compound sentence:
- We all agree the Comma Splice should be banished to never-never-land; however, we don’t have the means to do it.
3. Quotation Marks
- Semicolons should occur outside quotation marks and parentheses:
- She teasingly called him “Humpty Dumpty”; he kept falliing down.
- Semicolons can also come to the rescue to help clarify a series when it’s too intense for commas
- More specifically, Semicolons separate elements of a series when the items of the series are longer or set off by commas.
- Semicolons shouldn’t be used in the presence of a coordinating conjunction (e.g. and, but, for, etc.) unless there is extensive punctuation required in one or more Individual clauses:
- Attending the Manga Convention were ten leather-clad, chain-carrying bikers from Los Angelos; eight pretentious yuppies from the Bay area; a newly-formed trio of Idol hopefuls singing “You Tell Me Your Dream, and I'll Tell You Mine”; seven males and five females dressed in Hunger-Game costumes; and seven rebellious teenagers with tattoos on their lower backs.
- The contestants of the sauerkraut-eating championship came from Munich, Germany; Germantown, Wisconsin; Warsaw, Poland; Cairo, Egypt; and Tijuana, Mexico.
Use Superhero Semicolon tips to strengthen your writing skills, as well as maintain your good grades in class. We'll have more fun punctuation
soon. In the meantime, check out some other fun ways to learn
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