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  • It may seem like the semicolon is struggling with an identity crisis.

  • It looks like a comma crossed with a period.

  • Maybe that's why we toss these punctuation marks around like grammatical confetti.

  • We're confused about how to use them properly.

  • In fact, it's the semicolon's half-half status that makes it useful.

  • It's stronger than a comma, and less final than a period.

  • It fills the spaces in between, and for that reason,

  • it has some specific and important tasks.

  • For one, it can clarify ideas in a sentence

  • that's already festooned with commas.

  • "Semicolons: At first, they may seem frightening,

  • then, they become enlightening,

  • finally, you'll find yourself falling for these delightful punctuation marks."

  • Even though the commas separate different parts of the sentence,

  • it's easy to lose track of what belongs where.

  • But then the semicolon edges in to the rescue.

  • In list-like sentences, it can exert more force than commas do,

  • cutting sentences into compartments and grouping items that belong together.

  • The semicolon breaks things up, but it also builds connections.

  • Another of its tasks is to link together independent clauses.

  • These are sentences that can stand on their own,

  • but when connected by semicolons,

  • look and sound better because they're related in some way.

  • "Semicolons were once a great mystery to me.

  • I had no idea where to put them."

  • Technically, there's nothing wrong with that.

  • These two sentences can stand alone.

  • But imagine they appeared in a long list of other sentences,

  • all of the same length, each separated by periods.

  • Things would get monotonous very fast.

  • In that situation,

  • semicolons bring fluidity and variation to writing

  • by connecting related clauses.

  • But as beneficial as they are, semicolons don't belong just anywhere.

  • There are two main rules that govern their use.

  • Firstly, unless they're being used in lists,

  • semicolons should only connect clauses that are related in some way.

  • You wouldn't use one here, for instance:

  • "Semicolons were once a great mystery to me;

  • I'd really like a sandwich."

  • Periods work best here because these are two totally different ideas.

  • A semicolon's job is to reunite two independent clauses

  • that will benefit from one another's company

  • because they refer to the same thing.

  • Secondly, you'll almost never find a semicolon willingly stationed

  • before coordinating conjunctions:

  • the words, "and," "but," "for," "nor," "or," "so," and "yet."

  • That's a comma's place, in fact.

  • But a semicolon can replace a conjunction to shorten a sentence

  • or to give it some variety.

  • Ultimately, this underappreciated punctuation mark

  • can give writing clarity, force, and style,

  • all encompassed in one tiny dot and squiggle

  • that's just waiting to be put in the right place.

It may seem like the semicolon is struggling with an identity crisis.

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B1 TED-Ed semicolon punctuation comma related sentence

【TED-Ed】How to use a semicolon - Emma Bryce

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    稲葉白兎 posted on 2015/07/09
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