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Hi this is my first post, I stumbled upon the site accidentally while searching for English and grammar tutorials. Anyway, I have a question about Semi Colons. I understand they should be used when joining two independent clauses together, or before the words: therefore, moreover, thus, consequently, however, also.But I seem to still have trouble understand what other uses they have, and when to use them? I sometimes try to use them in a sentence, substituting the word because with a semi colon. For example: I went to the store; I need some paper towels. I used the semi-colon instead of because, is this acceptable, and is it proper English? Could anyone help me out with clarification as to when it is appropriate to use semi-colons? The sites I have browsed say they can be used when writing cautiously, ironically, or humorously, but they don't offer any examples... Emotion: sad Anyone information, feedback, or suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Peter
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Hi,

Welcome to the Forum.

Swan, in his Practical English Usage, simply says that semi-colons are often used instead of (periods) in cases where sentences are grammatically independent but where the meaning is closely connected. Note that he doesn't attempt to define closely connected.

I have some comments on what you wrote.

I have a question about Semi Colons. I understand they should be used when joining two independent clauses together, or before the words: therefore, moreover, thus, consequently, however, also. No, there is no rule that semi-colons have to precede words like this. In fact, the fact that there is a semi-colon showing a close connection will often make such words redundant.

For example: I went to the store; I need some paper towels. I used the semi-colon instead of because, is this acceptable, and is it proper English? It's OK, but we seldom write in this way. We just say 'because'. We usually write the way that we speak, and if you speak your sentence, it doesn't really make it very explicit that you are giving a reason.

Could anyone help me out with clarification as to when it is appropriate to use semi-colons? My advice is to use them seldom. I never use them at all. If you want to use them, do so in cases where you want to write with style, in a literary or poetical way, and about matters of significance rather than the purchase of paper towels. eg He died; the world mourned his passing. If you teach English learners about semi-colons without giving them this caution, then every two sentences they write will have a semi-colon, which is ridiculous.

The sites I have browsed say they can be used when writing cautiously, ironically, or humorously, but they don't offer any examples...I guess that's true, but they can be used when writing seriously, or in any other style, so I wouldn't worry too much about categories.

Best wishes, Clive
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Clive
Hi,

Welcome to the Forum.

Swan, in his Practical English Usage, simply says that semi-colons are often used instead of (periods) in cases where sentences are grammatically independent but where the meaning is closely connected. Note that he doesn't attempt to define closely connected.

I have some comments on what you wrote.

I have a question about Semi Colons. I understand they should be used when joining two independent clauses together, or before the words: therefore, moreover, thus, consequently, however, also. No, there is no rule that semi-colons have to precede words like this. In fact, the fact that there is a semi-colon showing a close connection will often make such words redundant.

For example: I went to the store; I need some paper towels. I used the semi-colon instead of because, is this acceptable, and is it proper English? It's OK, but we seldom write in this way. We just say 'because'. We usually write the way that we speak, and if you speak your sentence, it doesn't really make it very explicit that you are giving a reason.

Could anyone help me out with clarification as to when it is appropriate to use semi-colons? My advice is to use them seldom. I never use them at all. If you want to use them, do so in cases where you want to write with style, in a literary or poetical way, and about matters of significance rather than the purchase of paper towels. eg He died; the world mourned his passing. If you teach English learners about semi-colons without giving them this caution, then every two sentences they write will have a semi-colon, which is ridiculous.

The sites I have browsed say they can be used when writing cautiously, ironically, or humorously, but they don't offer any examples...I guess that's true, but they can be used when writing seriously, or in any other style, so I wouldn't worry too much about categories.

Best wishes, Clive

Thanks Clive, I found your response very helpful! Would it be appropriate to ask about the use of dashs in this thread, or should i start another?
Hi,

Glad to be of help. Yes, start another thread, please.

Clive