The Classic Debate: Comma vs. Semi-Colon –When to use? | Writing Made Simple

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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.

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Example:

Sentence/Independent Clause:

I want to write.

I like to dance.

My hands hurt a lot.

I feel tired.

Compound Sentence:

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).

Example:

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).

Example:

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.

Example:

Basic Necessity depends on various aspects of life; food, water, clothing & shelter.

VIDEO: Where to use: Comma Vs. Semi-Colon

COURTESY: Video – The NewYorker | Images – EnkiVillage , ShowMe

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