Combining Sentences Using Semi-Colons and Colons

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Combining Sentences Using Semi-Colons and Colons

  1. 1. Sentence Combining Using the Colon and the Semicolon Variety in sentence construction adds sophistication to your writing.Monday, April 16, 2012 CM & FM Matthew
  2. 2. Review of Sentence Basics• The sentence is the basic unit of meaning in English• Every sentence must be coherent, expressing a single thought or a relationship between thoughts• Every sentence must contain a subject and a predicate• What error is found in every bullet point on this slide?Monday, April 16, 2012 CM & FM Matthew 1
  3. 3. Subjects• A subject is the thing the sentence is talking about. It can be simple or compound. – Bob ate the apple. – Peter and Pam are happily married. – What did Ron eat yesterday? – Frank, the butcher’s son, Herbert, the rock star, Penelope, the aspiring actress, and Tonia, the student body president, complained. – Jane sings.Monday, April 16, 2012 CM & FM Matthew 2
  4. 4. Predicates• A predicate is what the sentence says about the subject. Predicates, like subjects, can be simple or complex. – Bob ate the apple. – Peter ate two loaves of day-old bread, gobbled three questionable chicken legs, nibbled fourteen rotten plums, drank a liter of soda, wolfed down a pizza he found in the trash and devoured the Snickers bar he found in bomb shelter rations. – Jane sings and dances. – Jane and Bob love eating and singing.Monday, April 16, 2012 CM & FM Matthew 3
  5. 5. Varying sentence structure• Many students stick to simple sentences because they are safe, but without a variety of sentence structures, writing can sound very simplistic. (Note that short simple sentences can occasionally be effective when used to show emphasis, and to show a change of pace.) – I like plums. I don’t like liver. My mother likes liver. She eats anything. She grew up in a small town. Her family was poor. They didn’t have money for meat. Especially good cuts of beef. But sometimes they could afford liver. So my mother learned to like liver. (Note that not all of these sentences are correct: the last three are sentence fragments.)Monday, April 16, 2012 CM & FM Matthew 4
  6. 6. Conjunctions• The main coordinating conjunctions are and, but and or. Nor, for, so and yet can also be used as coordinating conjunctions; they might add variety to your writing, but it is more difficult to use them correctly.• Coordinating conjunctions combine elements that have the same value. When a conjunction combines two independent clauses, it must be fortified with a comma.Monday, April 16, 2012 CM & FM Matthew 7
  7. 7. Combining with conjunctions – Bob and Jane smiled. (Two Nouns/Subjects) – Jane ran and swam. (Verbs) – The sleigh ran over the river and through the woods. (Prepositional Phrases) – Peter, the farmer, and Judy, the beautician, ran the local dairy for twenty years. (Noun with appositive) – Petronille was the fan’s favorite and the judges darling. (Object of the sentence/Predicate noun) (Note that none of these coordinating conjunctions require a comma before the conjunction.)Monday, April 16, 2012 CM & FM Matthew 8
  8. 8. Nouns in a series – Note that when items are listed in a series, you can replace the word ‘and’ with a comma. You cannot replace ‘and’ with a comma between the last two items in the series, so you need not add the comma. Sounds confusing, but it simple to understand when you see the following examples. – The sleigh ran over the river, around the town, between the towers and through the woods. – Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael were pop icons.Monday, April 16, 2012 CM & FM Matthew 9
  9. 9. Independent Clauses• An independent clause is basically a simple sentence. It contains a subject and a predicate. – Bob ate the apple. – You should run around the park.• (Note: There is a type of sentence called a command which has an implied subject you.) – Eat the apple. – Run!Monday, April 16, 2012 CM & FM Matthew 10
  10. 10. Exclamations – An exclamation does not necessarily end with an exclamation point. It can end with a full stop or even a question mark, but it is not a sentence. It is, however, grammatically correct. (Note that exclamations are informal, and many of them are not to be used in polite or academic speaking or writing!) – Drat! – Wow. (Sarcastic) – Bang, bang! – Oh, booger!Monday, April 16, 2012 CM & FM Matthew 11
  11. 11. Combining Independent Clauses• When combining two independent clauses, neither a comma nor a conjunction is strong enough to do the job alone, so usually they do the job together, just as they have in this sentence.X A comma splice is not a complete sentence, it attempts to combine two independent clauses with a comma alone, just as this incorrect sentence has done.Monday, April 16, 2012 CM & FM Matthew 12
  12. 12. Combining Independent ClausesX A run-on sentence isn’t just a sentence that runs on for too long but it is a mistake because it combines two independent clauses with a conjunction and no comma, just as this incorrect sentence has done.- Actually, a good writer can write a really long sentence which is far to long to be easily comprehensible, even if it is, strictly speaking, correct; some writers actually make a career out of writing brilliant, yet annoyingly long sentences that last for half a page while adding little or nothing to the content of the story or essay they are writing, and thought some people might say that this makes little rhetorical sense, others would argue that it demonstrates a certain genius which manifests itself in only the rarest of authors, the kind of which comes along every century or so, or perhaps even less frequently if one takes into account that many of these ‘brilliant’ authors are only briefly famous and do not stand the test of time as Shakespeare, Dickens or, though I hate to admit it, Austen have done; such sentences, as you have probably surmised, demonstrate a certain level of ability – some would say arrogance – on the part of the author while being so incomprehensible that they are hardly worth the effort the reader takes to decipher them.Monday, April 16, 2012 CM & FM Matthew 13
  13. 13. Semicolons• The semicolon is stronger than a comma. It has the ability to combine two independent clauses which are closely related. – Bob ate the apple; Jane ate the fig. – I like the colors the painter used; I don’t like the subject matter. – I went to Harvard; Penelope went to Yale. – My parents wanted me to go to study law; I had subjects in mind.Monday, April 16, 2012 CM & FM Matthew 14
  14. 14. Colons• Colons, like semicolons, combine two independent clauses which are closely related, but in the case of the colon the second clause explains the first. As a result you can sometimes test the use of the colon by replacing it with the subordinating conjunction ‘because’. Using a colon adds a bit of emphasis to the second clause. – Bobate the apple: he was hungry. – The reasons for the fight were many: for years the boys had been feuding over math grades, their favorite football clubs, their favorite colors and their love for Judy, the beautician from slide seven.Monday, April 16, 2012 CM & FM Matthew 15
  15. 15. Extended Sentence Combining When writers get better at sentence combining, they can be more creative with their expression. – Peter did not like his boss: then again, Peter was pretty lazy, and he did not like work much at all. – Katambo, Hazel, Marvin, HansandMiguelate Oreos and drank milk until the wee hours of the morning; they were celebrating because the boss had finally had enough of Peter’s laziness: the office really hadn’t been a happy place since Peter promotion to office manager the year before. – Jane wants to go sky diving; I want to go lie on the beach. (Note that in this sentence the semicolon is combining contrasting, but closely related ideas.)Monday, April 16, 2012 CM & FM Matthew 16
  16. 16. Incorrect Uses of the Colon• It is incorrect to put a dash after a colon. X Bob ate the apple:- he was hungry.• In spite of what some word processors will tell you, there are two spaces after a colon just as there are after a period. This keeps a paragraph from looking too crowded and jammed up.• Though colons are often used to introduce lists, it is technically incorrect to use them for anything other than sentence combining. However, this use is very common, so it is probably fine to use it in informal writing. X Ruth ate three kinds of fruit: apples, oranges and pears.Monday, April 16, 2012 CM & FM Matthew 17
  17. 17. Comparing a Well-Coordinated Paragraph• I like plums. I don’t like liver. My mother likes liver. She eats anything. She grew up in a small town. Her family was poor. They didn’t have money for good cuts of beef. But sometimes they could afford liver. So my mother learned to like liver. My mother says I should be happy that I can have liver every Friday. I think I’ll stick to plums.• I like plums, but I don’t like liver. My mother likes liver: she eats anything. She grew up in a small town, and her family was poor. They didn’t have money for good cuts of beef, but sometimes they could afford liver, so my mother learned to like liver. My mother says I should be happy that I can have liver every Friday;I think I’ll stick to plums.Monday, April 16, 2012 CM & FM Matthew 18
  18. 18. Other Uses of the Colon You have learned that you can use a colon to join two sentences together to make a compound sentence. However, colons can be used to connect sentences in other ways:• to introduce a list or a series (including bulleted lists)• to introduce quotations (including block quotations)Monday, April 16, 2012 CM & FM Matthew 19
  19. 19. Using the colon correctly The main rule for correctly punctuating with colons is to make sure that what comes before the colon is a complete grammatical construction (usually a complete sentence)• The best way to ensure that you have used the colon correctly in your sentence is to look at what comes before the colon and check that it is grammatically correct (that is, a complete sentence). You can test this by covering or deleting the information that follows the colon and see if the information that is left can stand alone as a complete idea.• If this information cannot stand alone as a complete idea, you should not use the colon there.• For example: • Five things are crucial to remember when leaving on your dive boat: fins, BCD, tank, weights and mask.• If we delete the information after the colon (fins, BCD, tank, weights and mask), we are left with a clause that is a complete sentence: • Five things are crucial to remember when leaving on your dive boat. : fins, BCD, tank, weights and mask. Source: Academic Center tutoring and Testing at UHV orMonday, April 16, 2012 20 www.uhv.edu/ac
  20. 20. Using the Colon Incorrectly• Now let’s look at a sentence that uses the colon incorrectly: • The five things crucial to remember when leaving on your dive boat are: fins, BCD, tank, weight and mask. • The five things crucial to remember when leaving on your dive boat are. :fins, BCD, tank, weight and mask.• In this example, when we delete the information following the colon (fins, BCD, tank, weights and mask), we see that ‘The five crucial things to remember when leaving on your dive boat are’ remains, and this cannot stand alone; we cannot place a period after ‘are’ , so we should NOT use the colon.Monday, April 16, 2012 CM & FM Matthew 21
  21. 21. Using Colons to Introduce Series and Lists• We can use colons to set up lists or series of items when we want to emphasize them. That is, we use the colon to point to the information that comes after it.• The list is often an appositive that renames or defines some part of the information that comes before the colon.• The information can be presented as either a horizontal list or as a vertical list• The main rule for using colons still applies: the information that comes before the colon must be a complete sentence. Source: Academic Center tutoring and Testing at UHV orMonday, April 16, 2012 www.uhv.edu/ac 22
  22. 22. Horizontal Lists• Let’s look at an example: • Keiko plans on bringing several items to the homebase party: cokes, napkins, plates and forks.• The horizontal list above following the colon is an appositive that more specifically defines the items that Keiko will bring to the homebase party. Please note that we can place a period after party, so the sentence would still make sense.• Let’s take a look at a sentence punctuated incorrectly: • Keiko plans on bringing: cokes, napkins, plates and forks.• The example above shows the incorrect use of the colon. If we delete the information following the colon, the remainder of the sentence will not make sense: the remaining information is a fragment. • Keiko plans on bringing. : cokes, napkins, plates and forks. Source: Academic Center tutoring and Testing at UHV orMonday, April 16, 2012 23 www.uhv.edu/ac
  23. 23. Vertical Lists• The same rule applies when you use colons to set up vertical lists, including numbered or bulleted lists: the information before the colon must be a complete sentence.• For example: The AMA has identified four major symptoms of drug abuse: • Red eyes, • Problems with comprehension, • Withdrawal from social interaction, and • Depression• Please note that capitalizing the first word in each item of a bulleted list is optional – though capitalizing adds more emphasis.• Also note the comma between items is considered optional in most business and technical writing. Source: Academic Center tutoring and Testing at UHV orMonday, April 16, 2012 www.uhv.edu/ac 24
  24. 24. Using Colons to Introduce Quotations• By now you will see the pattern emerging, and if you have missed it, then let me say it again: : the information before the colon must be a complete sentence.• For example: Soo Hee expresses her concern about heart disease: “Deaths from heart disease in America will increase by five times in the next twenty years.”• It is important to remember that the information before the colon should add to the reader’s understanding of the quotation – it should set up a context for or explain something about the quotation.• This is even more important when you are setting up a block quotation.• For example: In the novel, Night, Elie is a religious boy who answers Moishe , when he is asked a question: “Why did I pray? Strange question. Why did I live? Why did I breath?” (Wiesel 4). Later in the story, he begins to question God’s decisions. He begins to forsake God: “Blessed be God’s name? …Why, but why would I bless Him? Every fiber in me rebelled. Because He caused thousands of children to burn in His mass graves” (Wiesel 67). Source: Academic Center tutoring and Testing at UHV orMonday, April 16, 2012 www.uhv.edu/ac 25
  25. 25. Conclusion• The rules for sentence combining are not intended to stifle a writer’s creative genius; rather, they are a means toward the end of writing more creatively and with more precision. By learning to write a variety of sentence structures writers add depth and sophistication to their written expression. Academic writers can also write with more authority and believability. Remember, it is a waste of a good idea to present it poorly; we all prefer to read well crafted and creative language.Monday, April 16, 2012 CM & FM Matthew 26

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