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PaulM
03-28-2014, 06:00 AM
Hi all, can anyone tell me if my use of a ; is correct here (I'll admit I'm a bit fuzzy on how to use them properly).

“It’s a small town; odds are good if you’re running to a card game and I’m cleaning up the mess Jonas was involved."

BethS
03-28-2014, 06:30 AM
Technically, yes, because it joins two complete sentences. (Though it looks like you dropped a word at the end of the sentence. Should be "...involved in" I think.)

ETA: Never mind that last bit. I misread the sentence.

cornflake
03-28-2014, 07:08 AM
Hi all, can anyone tell me if my use of a ; is correct here (I'll admit I'm a bit fuzzy on how to use them properly).

“It’s a small town; odds are good if you’re running to a card game and I’m cleaning up the mess Jonas was involved."

Yes, but it looks like you need a comma before 'was.'

Semicolons are used to separate independent clauses.

I went to the store and bought a hamster. The orange is an independent clause. It can be a stand-alone sentence. The purple is a dependent clause; it cannot stand alone.

You can join independent clauses three ways -

With a period - this is fine, but begins to sound a little third-grade.

With a semicolon.

With a comma and conjunction.

I went to the shelter; I adopted a hamster and two ferrets.

I went to the shelter, and I adopted a hamster and an ostrich.

Semicolons are also used to separate compound items in a list.

I bought saws, hammers, nails, a chainsaw, and a hamster. - single items, separated by commas.

I bought saws to cut down the wood beams, dowels and frame; hammers to get the moles; nails for this, that, and the other; ...

blacbird
03-28-2014, 11:01 AM
In addition to the correct comments already posted, go to the Purdue OWL (google will quicklike get you there), the best free grammar/style reference available on-line. They have everything you need to know about semicolons, and a hell of a lot of other useful stuff.

caw

guttersquid
03-28-2014, 11:59 AM
The sentence is clumsy, and that makes the use of a semicolon seem out of place. It would seem more natural if you recast the sentence.

“It’s a small town; if you arrive at a card game and I’m cleaning up a mess, odds are Jonas was involved."

To use a semicolon, 1) the second clause must restate the first, or 2) the clauses must be of equal emphasis.

Chase
03-28-2014, 05:56 PM
Yes, but it looks like you need a comma before 'Jonas was.'

Added "Jonus" above for the fix. Hope it helps rather than hinders. All else is solid info. :)


The sentence is clumsy, and that makes the use of a semicolon seem out of place. It would seem more natural if you recast the sentence.

“It’s a small town; if you arrive at a card game and I’m cleaning up a mess, odds are Jonas was involved."

To use of a semicolon, 1) the second clause must restate the first, or 2) the clauses must be of equal emphasis.

Like other info in this thread, Guttersquid's is excellent.

Roxxsmom
03-28-2014, 10:25 PM
It's fine, though I think you need a comma before Jonas.

You use semicolons when you need to separate two independent (stand alone) clauses in a sentence, or when you need to separate elements in a list when the elements themselves contain commas.

Having said that, a lot of authors avoid them and simply use two shorter sentences. I think you're all right there, since the second clause clearly follows from the first. I think Guttersquid's recast made the meaning of the second clause clearer.

CRoman
03-29-2014, 02:31 AM
In addition to the correct comments already posted, go to the Purdue OWL (google will quicklike get you there), the best free grammar/style reference available on-line. They have everything you need to know about semicolons, and a hell of a lot of other useful stuff.

caw

I looked at the site, it dose have allot

Jamesaritchie
03-29-2014, 09:14 PM
Grammar isn't the issue. The question is does it work better with a semicolon, or with a period? The answer is that it almost always works better with a period. The semicolon makes it really awkward, and draws attention to itself. Semicolons almost always do.

In thirty-five years, I've never found a reason to use a semicolon in fiction, except as a sign that I needed to change something.

Chase
03-29-2014, 09:42 PM
The question is does it work better with a semicolon, or with a period? The answer is that it almost always works better with a period. The semicolon makes it really awkward, and draws attention to itself.

Ah, yes, after all the clutter of rules, there's always the case for whimsy in the use of semicolons and, as twice demonstrated, commas.

King Neptune
03-29-2014, 09:54 PM
Yes whimsy.

NRoach
03-29-2014, 10:24 PM
Grammar isn't the issue. The question is does it work better with a semicolon, or with a period? The answer is that it almost always works better with a period. The semicolon makes it really awkward, and draws attention to itself. Semicolons almost always do.

In thirty-five years, I've never found a reason to use a semicolon in fiction, except as a sign that I needed to change something.

I consider the semicolon no more or less important than the comma; they serve a fantastic purpose, and see far less use than is due to them.
I get the feeling that any imagined awkwardness or protuberance comes from the reader's lack of familiarity with it; if they weren't treated as the obscure black sheep of punctuation, to be scorned and eschewed, there'd be zero issue.

That, and their use can change the rhythm of prose beautifully.