My children, at last I have a broader forum for a discussion of my vocation, the Lord's own sweet English grammar!
Today's lesson, the semicolon.
The semicolon, what a useful little piece of punctuation it is! I tell my students that the semicolon is our friend. It is used between two independent clauses, complete thoughts, or in other words two sentences that grammatically can stand alone. The reason to join them in one sentence is because they are so closely related that the writer would like them in the same sentence. For example,
The last time I saw a paper that grammatically mangled I had to excuse myself to go to the loo; it didn't help.
The trick is to remember that on each side of the semicolon one must see a complete sentence, one that can stand alone.
Just to refresh the high school grammar out there, a complete sentence requires a subject (noun or pronoun) and a predicate (verb), properly inflected for tense and number.
Now, when using any number of connecting words, transitions, or conjunctive adverbs, if you will, one must punctuate thusly:
The last time I saw a paper that grammatically mangled I had to excuse myself to go to the loo; however, it didn't help.
Notice that the semicolon appears in its proper place, and a comma follows the conjunctive adverb (or transitional word, or connecting word, or what have you).
Other commonly used transitional words/phrases: thus, consequently, of course, therefore, moreover, nevertheless, in addition, for example. The list goes on and on.
Watch for more grammar goodies from your favorite teacher. Till then, good day and good grammar!
Sister Mary Grammatica, SGJ
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