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I was reading through my textbook and came across the following:
According to Marx, not only do religions pacify people falsely; they may themselves become tools of oppression.
Why is the semicolon allowed between falsely and they?

I have a decent understanding of the semicolon usage, so I don't need a complete lecture on it.
But I do wonder if this follows the idea that a semicolon can take the place of a comma if a comma has already been used in the sentence.

Ex: This is not the neighbor's dog, but it is my dog; yet it is the same color dog.

Does this thread have to do with grammar? I was thinking about posting this in the linguistics board, but I didn't.

Here's another example:
Not only was women's spiritual contribution cast aside; in relacing the goddess, patriarchal groups may also have devalued the "feminine" aspect of religion--the receptive, intuitive, ecstatic mystical communion that was perhaps allowed freer expression in the goddess traditions.
What's up with this author's semicolon usage? Is this author incompetent to the usage, or is it just me?

I also feel there may be some subject verb agreement error in the second quote; therefore, I feel that the first quote may be right and the second quote is incorrectly written.

I feel the author has style and grammar issues. The style is sense with the "not only" statement. Yet the semicolon usage throws off the idea that the author doesn't know what he or she is doing with the semicolon.
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Hi,

I was reading through my textbook and came across the following:




According to Marx, not only do religions pacify people falsely; they may themselves become tools of oppression.
Why is the semicolon allowed between falsely and they? I suggest that it's not good to think of semi-colons in terms of allowed/not allowed. They are a matter of stylistic choice. The author here apparently felt that there was a close relationship between the two parts of the sentence, and that he should suggest to the reader that a pause to ponder this relationship is a good idea. That's what a semi-colon really represents, a longer pause than a comma suggests.


I have a decent understanding of the semicolon usage, so I don't need a complete lecture on it. OK, I promise I'll try not to lecture.

But I do wonder if this follows the idea that a semicolon can take the place of a comma if a comma has already been used in the sentence. I'm not familiar with this rule. It seems to me much too mechanical to be a useful way to think about style.

Ex: This is not the neighbor's dog, but it is my dog; yet it is the same color dog. This doesn't seem to me to be out of the question just because of the comma. I don't like the overall sentence/thought. The se of both 'but' and 'yet' also bother me.

Does this thread have to do with grammar? I was thinking about posting this in the linguistics board, but I didn't. Seems OK here, to me.

Here's another example:





Not only was women's spiritual contribution cast aside; in relacing the goddess, patriarchal groups may also have devalued the "feminine" aspect of religion--the receptive, intuitive, ecstatic mystical communion that was perhaps allowed freer expression in the goddess traditions.
What's up with this author's semicolon usage? I think the problem is this. A semi-colon suggests to the reader that there is a close relationship between the two parts of the sentence. The nature of that relationship is left for the reader to work out. eg He loved her; she went to Rome.

You could say 'He loved her but she went to Rome', but this is more explicit and may mean something different. You could also say 'He loved her; but she went to Rome'. However, this usage of a linking term seems to me to defeat the purpose of using the more subtle semi-colon.

In short, the main thing I don't like about your quotation above is that it includes both the linking term 'not only' and a semi-colon. I would expect it to follow 'not only' with 'but'.

What do you think about this line of thought? I hope I didn't fall into lecturing.

Best wishes, Clive
According to Marx, not only do religions pacify people falsely; they may themselves become tools of oppression.
At first sight I would say that this is wrong, but after reading Clive's post, I would not swear to it. I have always thought that semicolons were used between two Independent Clauses that were closely related.

I can say that I have seen grammatical errors in text books before at the college level. This always makes me frustrated after I think how much I had to pay for the book.

I realize this is an old post, but I was looking into the subject of using yet with a semicolon for a paper I was writing and felt I should comment.

Anonymous
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Clive
But I do wonder if this follows the idea that a semicolon can take the place of a comma if a comma has already been used in the sentence. I'm not familiar with this rule. It seems to me much too mechanical to be a useful way to think about style.

I had a business writing professor who made his students follow that rule religiously. (He was most certainly a prescriptivist.)


Semi-colon is always a problem for many people including natives. The ways I understand it is, if two ideas are expressed in separte senteces which are conceptually connected, a semi-colon can be used. The next question I have is, can this be replaced by a comma?
A better rule would be "If your sentence has become so confused with commas that another form of punctuation is needed to replace at least one of the commas, then the sentence needs to be re-written."
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Grammar GeekA better rule would be "If your sentence has become so confused with commas that another form of punctuation is needed to replace at least one of the commas, then the sentence needs to be re-written."


I agree.

For example: Martha wrote an action sequence, planning to film it in the parlor; a scene in a library, intending to use her office as a set; and an episode at Lake Marcos.
GoodmanSemi-colon is always a problem for many people including natives. The ways I understand it is, if two ideas are expressed in separte senteces which are conceptually connected, a semi-colon can be used. The next question I have is, can this be replaced by a comma?

It can be replaced by a comma as long as there is a coordinating conjunction expressed (but, and).

My rule of thumb: the semi-colon functions as a period (full stop to the Brits). It is used if the writer wants to indicate that the two "sentences" are so closely related that a period would not indicate this close relationship.

Of course, this isn't the only use of the semi-colon, but it's a start.

semicolons are commonly usedf in "not only" statements, indicating connection of ideas without unnecessary prepositions or conjunctions.
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