Semicolons with Clauses

Semicolons are used to separate independent clauses in three different cases.

1. When there are no conjunctions separating the clauses.

Incorrect: I like you, John likes you, too.
(Semicolon needed)

Correct: I like you; John likes you, too.

2. When the clauses are separated by a conjunctive adverb or other parenthetical expression set off by commas.

Correct: I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless, I live.--Galatians 2:20.
(Nevertheless is a conjunctive adverb.)

Correct: Hector was a Trojan; Achilles, on the other hand, was an Achaean.

3. When the clauses themselves contain commas.

Incorrect: He wears shoes with kilties, a leather fringe, but I prefer penny loafers myself.
(Since clause already has comma, semicolon separating the clauses is needed to make sentence clear.)

Correct: He wears shoes with kilties, a leather fringe; but I prefer penny loafers myself.


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