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13.3: Commas and Semicolons

  • Page ID
    6543
  • Avoid using commas to connect independent clauses. Consider the following comma splices:

    Example 1 - I finally found my keys, I got to work just in time.

    Example 2 - It rained heavily during the afternoon, however we still managed to have a picnic.

    Use a period, semicolon, or coordinating conjunction to connect independent clauses:

    Example 1 - I finally found my keys, and I got to work just in time.

    Example 2 - It rained heavily during the afternoon; however, we still managed to have a picnic.

    For a definition and examples of independent clauses, see Chapter 12, Lesson 1. For a definition of and examples of coordinating conjunction, see Chapter 12, Lesson 1.

    In most cases, we only use semicolons to connect two independent clauses. Avoid using semicolons to separate words or phrases from the independent clause.

    Example 1 - The roof of that car was covered in Astroturf; a strange sight!

    Example 2 - Quentin’s father gave him a golden pocket watch; which was a priceless family heirloom.

    Use dashes to emphasize or set off a phrase, or use a comma to set off a phrase if you do not want to convey as much emphasis.

    Example 1 - The roof of that car was covered in Astroturf—a strange sight!

    Example 2 - Quentin’s father gave him a golden pocket watch, which was a priceless family heirloom.

    See Chapter 13 to review the uses of the comma, semicolon, and dash.

    Review Questions

    Each sentence has either a comma splice or sentence fragment. Correct comma splices by replacing them with a period, semicolon, or coordinating conjunction. Correct sentence fragments by either omitting the semicolon completely or replacing the semicolon with a comma or dash.

    1. I gave my mother a box of chocolates for her birthday, she was pleased.
    2. Susan was sitting off in the corner; without a care in the world.
    3. When they were kids they made homemade lemonade, they sold it for two bucks a pop.
    4. Without support from the president; the bill failed to make it through Congress.
    5. Construction continued unabated for more than two months, I wasn’t getting much sleep.
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