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1. Is the semicolon correctly used? I think it is but don't know the reason. I thought a semicolon is to connect two independent clauses.

They talked about things that are important to everyone in terms of growing up properly; like being gentle, generous, and helpful to others in need.

2. Are these commas correctly used?

Something nice, can be deceiving. But something ugly, can be straight forward.
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In the first sentence, use a comma (you are right in that a semi-colon requires a second independent clause.
In the second example, there is no need for commas.
Comments  
Anonymous1. Is the semicolon correctly used? I think it is but don't know the reason. I thought a semicolon is to connect two independent clauses.

They talked about things that are important to everyone in terms of growing up properly; like being gentle, generous, and helpful to others in need.

Yes, the semicolon is used correctly because the whole thing is one sentance so you shouldn't use a period but rather use a semi-colon. If you used a comma, the sentance would be a run-on or a comma splice.

2. Are these commas correctly used?

Something nice, can be deceiving. But something ugly, can be straight forward.