Volume 2, Number 34, June 8, 1998
When two independent clauses are in the same sentence (An independent clause can stand as a separate sentence.), they can be separated by a comma and conjunction such as and or but. (Sometimes the comma isn’t used with the conjunction.) Another way to separate them is with a semicolon (;).
If you find yourself wondering whether you should use a comma and conjunction to separate two parts of a sentence, or to make two totally separate sentences, the use of a semicolon is often a good choice.
My sister is nice, and your sister is mean.
My sister is nice. Your sister is mean.
You can write:
My sister is nice; your sister is mean.
This tends to make the statement somewhat stronger.
Each of the following sentences has a missing semicolon. Rewrite each sentence with the semicolon in its proper place.
1. You prefer chocolate we prefer vanilla.
2. They destroyed the note they didn’t want you to know the truth.
3. Kerri entered the contest she won easily.
4. Your pet elephant is annoying it keeps stepping on my toes.
5. You’ve done your best you’ve made us all feel proud.
Each of the following sentences is correct. Rewrite each one, using a semicolon instead of the comma and/or conduction. The first one has been done for you.
1. I like your face, and I love your smile.
I like your face; I love your smile.
2. The speech was long, and it seemed to go on forever.
3. Anne’s future is bright, because you made it happen.
4. Sam’s manner is rough, but his heart is warm.
5. Winter arrived and Jessica left.
Copyright 1998 RHL
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