THE SEMICOLON How do you use it? The semicolon is one of three ways that you can put two complete sentences back to back.
As the rule sheet said . . .
Semicolons connect 2 COMPLETE sentences.
From what you learned in the last lesson, you know that this means for two sentences to be back to back, each must contain a subject, verb and a complete thought.
It would look like this:
Subject+verb & complete thought ; subject+verb & complete thought
My dog likes water; he jumps in the pond every day.
My dog likes water;jumps in the pond every day. (notice that the 2 nd half is not a complete sentence!
The next few slides will review special circumstances that you need to watch out for:
I worked at Burger King; while I was a student at NC State.
THIS IS WRONG!
Notice how the semicolon separates two thoughts but not two complete sentences.
The clause after the semicolon is not a complete sentence because it does not complete a thought.
Things to watch out for #2:
Watch out for conjunctive adverbs.
I am nervous, therefore; I might be sick.
This is WRONG!
Notice how the semicolon is put in the wrong place.
“Therefore”—your conjunctive adverb or transition word—goes with the 2 nd sentence, not the first, so the semicolon should go BEFORE the conjunctive adverb or transition word
When you are learning about semicolons, you are going to hear the word “conjunctive adverb.”
A conjunctive adverb is a word that helps transition ideas. Notice the key word here, “ideas.” Notice that I didn’t say connects “complete sentences.”
Since a conjunctive adverb can’t connect 2 sentences, if it comes between 2 sentences, there must also be a period or semicolon.
EX: Dogs are lazy; therefore, they sleep all day. CORRECT!
EX: Dogs are lazy, therefore, they sleep all day—WRONG!
Notice in the “wrong” example that a comma is not strong enough to connect two sentences, so even when a conjunctive adverb is added between two sentences, a comma is still not strong enough!
A period or semicolon must come between the two sentences.
COMMON Conjunctive Adverbs
There is no way to memorize ALL of the conjunctive adverbs, but if you become familiar with the most common ones, it will help you to recognize them in sentences and use them in your writing.
Things to watch out for #3
I will have to try harder in my English class; or I will fail.
If you see the words for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so (words that we will call fanboys until we see them in the next Module), they can come between 2 completed, but a comma always comes before them, not a semicolon.
GO BACK TO BB!
Go back to your BB now and try the interactive online exercise that will test what you have learned.