The Classic Debate: Comma vs. Semi-Colon –When to use? | Writing Made Simple
Comma or Semi-Colon? A million-dollar mystery that continues from one’s childhood to his/her career. A simple and an effective understanding of those punctuation marks is the key in unlocking the mystery. A gentle throwback to the basics before hitting the root of the issue would provide us valuable insights.
BASICS: SENTENCE/INDEPENDENT CLAUSE AND COMPOUND SENTENCE
A sentence/independent clause is group of words that contains a subject, a verb and an expressing thought. Two independent clauses linked result in a compound sentence. Employing Punctuation markers like Colon (:), Semi-Colon (;) and Commas (,) connects independent clauses in a compound sentence.
I want to write.
I like to dance.
My hands hurt a lot.
I feel tired.
I want to write but my hands hurt a lot.
I like to dance though I feel tired.
I feel tired but I like to dance.
COMMA’S AND SEMI-COLON’S:
Commas are employed when two independent clauses are inter-related. Inter-related sentences utilize conjunctions such as but, for, so, yet etc. (Check out the list of conjunctions).
I want to write, but my hands hurt a lot.
I feel tired, but I like to dance.
I like to dance, though I feel tired.
Semi-colons are employed when two independent clauses are not related. Non-related sentences either have no connecting words or utilize conjunctive adverbs such as therefore, moreover etc. (Check out the list of Conjunctive adverbs).
I want to write; my hands hurt a lot.
I want to write; meanwhile my hands hurt a lot.
I feel tired; I like to dance.
I feel tired; however, I like to dance.
Semi-colons are also employed to denote large clauses when commas are already present to denote small clauses.
Basic Necessity depends on various aspects of life; food, water, clothing & shelter.
VIDEO: Where to use: Comma Vs. Semi-Colon