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dlcharles
02-11-2006, 09:25 PM
Wonderful, Lady Julia: Now I am aware that a semi-colon is used when two complete sentences join - and a comma is used for almost everything else, but what are the restrictive exceptions? Would you be so kind as to construct a lengthy sentence using commas and semi-colons - say, at least two semi-colons in the same sentence?





Almost to the Holy 50 and then I can totally stop. Short term goals can be a pain.

TemlynWriting
02-12-2006, 03:09 AM
Wonderful, Lady Julia: Now I am aware that a semi-colon is used when two complete sentences join - and a comma is used for almost everything else, but what are the restrictive exceptions?

dlcharles, could you expand upon your question, maybe in a new thread so it'd find-able in the future? I don't quite understand what you're asking.dcharles, I'm going to use your question to create a new thread, as it is its own question. :)
Also, like Maryn, I'm not quite sure I fully understand what you're asking. There are always exceptions to the rule, but can you provide an example of what you mean?

Thanks!

By the way, I don't consider myself a grammar know-it-all, so just because I'm the moderator of this forum doesn't mean that I can answer all questions. I'm here to "moderate" as well as help, and even more so, learn! :)

Julia, who's not Reph, but considers herself a grammar maven-in-training

Maryn
02-12-2006, 04:38 AM
Personally, I'd never write a sentence with two semicolons in it. That needs to be two sentences, or three, or eleven...

KAP
02-12-2006, 04:41 AM
I'm no grammar expert, either, but I believe semi-colons can be used instead of commas to make breaks or groupings clearer. Usually using them that way signals me to simplify the sentence, but here's one I haven't gotten to yet.


But that gentle scene was flat and faded like a picture torn from an old scenic calendar, and it blew helplessly through grotesque three-dimensional memories--red shadow-men surrounded by darkness, something violent in their quick movements; an orange sun being swallowed by purple clouds; a raised slab centered in a dim room, clotted liquid dripping irregularly from the slab's near edge.




The semi-colons replace commas because there're so many other commas, something else is needed. At least that was my thought at the time. My example might be the wrong way to use semi-colons, but maybe it helps define your question. Or takes this discussion somewhere else entirely.

reph
02-12-2006, 07:16 AM
Julia, who's not Reph, but...
Why do people keep saying things like that? This forum has others who know grammar as well as I do, probably better. Certainly they've had longer formal study of it.

KAP is right; one place for multiple semicolons is a series where items have internal punctuation. That's typical in academic prose. Modern fiction writers don't usually write sentences long enough to call for more than one semicolon, but I can imagine this, for instance:


Armand entered the little bedroom and collapsed onto its solitary chair. He set his lunch pail on the floor; he shed his work gloves and pulled off his boots, still muddy from the field; he emptied his pockets. It was then that he noticed a scrap of paper taped to the mirror...

Using periods instead of semis between all of Armand's actions would make for choppiness. Putting them in one sentence blends them into a continuous routine.

Gee whiz, I learn so much from myself!

dragonjax
02-12-2006, 08:57 AM
You should use semicolons to offset clauses that already have commas in them...and then you need to be consistent:

I couldn't believe all the colors she'd used: reds, blues, and yellows near the top; greens and purples down below; to the left, white; to the right, black.

dante-x
02-12-2006, 09:01 AM
Love the above example Reph, yet another tool for the wordsmith's arsenal.

Does anyone have a MLA (Modern Language Associations) Handbook handy? It might prove helpful to fish out their definition and prescribed use of the " ;"

TemlynWriting
02-12-2006, 09:34 AM
Why do people keep saying things like that? This forum has others who know grammar as well as I do, probably better. Certainly they've had longer formal study of it.
Sorry about that, Reph. I certainly didn't mean any offense. I just look up to you as sort of a mentor in grammar and punctuation. :)

Does anyone have a MLA (Modern Language Associations) Handbook handy? It might prove helpful to fish out their definition and prescribed use of the " ;"I do have an MLA Handbook right here on my desk, but it's way past my bedtime. I'll see what I can find in a day or two. :)

luxintenebrae
02-12-2006, 11:34 AM
I looked up semicolons in my MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers book. It doesn't have much about punctuation, but it says this about semicolons:

"a. Use a semicolon between independen clauses not linked by a conjunction.

The cost is tattered beyond repair; still, Akaky hopes the tailor can mend it.

b. Use semicolons between items in a series when the items contain commas.

Present at the symposium were Henri Guillaume, the art critic; Sam Brown, the Daily Tribune reporter; and Maria Rosa, the conceptual artist."

So all of you were right!

dragonjax
02-12-2006, 04:58 PM
So all of you were right!

It's a nice quality to share. :Hug2:

Julie Worth
02-12-2006, 05:56 PM
It might prove helpful to fish out their definition and prescribed use of the " ;"

Ah! But you shouldn't use it in dialogue. There, comma splices are fine.

dante-x
02-12-2006, 06:07 PM
Sorry heh, I meant the use of

;

not

" ; "

But now that you mention it that is a good consideration, and point.

Maryn
02-12-2006, 07:27 PM
Oh, duh. I didn't think about semicolons in series in which the elements themselves contain commas. I stand corrected--not for the first time, either!

Maryn, marginally open to new information