CSU, Sacramento Using Semicolons Click on the Left arrow to return to the Sentence Index or Home to return to the Main Menu

Who?

IC; IC.
IC; ca, IC.


Exercise


We can join independent clauses (IC) to create compound sentences by using a semicolon (;).   And like the comma-FANBOYS pattern, when we construct a compound sentence using the semicolon, we ask our readers to understand that the two ideas logically relate to each other.

The pattern for compound sentences using a semicolon is easy to remember:

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IC ; IC.

 

 


We must, however, make sure that there is an independent clause on both sides of the semicolon every time we use one. A common mistake is to place a fragment to the right of the semicolon.

Semicolons

 

Note that the
independent
clause (IC) on
either side of
the semicolon
could stand
alone as a
simple sentence.

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Examples:

grn_dimnd.gif (95 bytes) Small farmers, represented by the Scarecrow, were oppressed by Eastern bankers; the industrial workers, represented by the Tin Man, were also oppressed.

grn_dimnd.gif (95 bytes) Baum's book is a political allegory; few people today would recognize the original events in this story.

grn_dimnd.gif (95 bytes) The Wizard of Oz is a story of economic reform; Oz is short for ounce, signifying the gold standard.

grn_dimnd.gif (95 bytes) The real Oz, the man behind the curtain, was neither great nor powerful; the story portrays an ineffective president as a bumbling wizard.

Semicolons

 


Unlike the comma-FANBOYS pattern, however, the use of a simple semicolon does not specify the relationship.

As a result, we must be sure to give the reader sufficient clues to understand the relationship(s) we intend.

Another option is a variation on the simple semicolon pattern, using a conjunctive adverb to indicate the relationship between the two independent clauses along with the semicolon, which joins the clauses:

Conjunctive
adverbs (
ca),
however, do
NOT join the
clauses; the
semicolon does.
A conjunctive
adverb simply
signifies how
the two clauses
are related.

 

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IC ; ca, IC.

 


Considering that there are only five types of relationships which we can signify by use of the FANBOYS, this pattern gives us a great deal of flexibility and choice when constructing compound sentences.

 

 

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Logic FANBOYS ca
conjunctive adverbs

(do not join clauses)
Addition and in addition, too, moreover, also, additionally, furthermore, further, again, besides
Comparison   likewise, similarly,
by comparison
Opposition, Contrast, Concession but, yet however,
nevertheless,
on the other hand,
in contrast
Cause for  
Result or Effect so therefore, thus, hence, as a result, consequently, accordingly
Choice, Option, Alternative or, nor on the other hand, alternatively
Example, Illustration, Explanation, Reason   for example, indeed, for instance, certainly, in fact, or course
Time   first, now, next, then, last, subsequently, second, third, afterwards, later, previously, before that, finally
Digression   incidentally,
by the way
Summary   in summary, in brief,
in short, in a word

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In addition to signifying a specific relationship between ideas, the compound structure also tells the reader that these clauses are valued equally--that one idea is no more important than the other.

This is as true of the compound sentence constructed with a semicolon as with a comma and FANBOYS.

If I choose to indicate contrast between my ideas by using the conjunctive adverb "however," wanting my reader to see the difference(s) between my ideas, I am also indicating to my reader that each independent clause should be equally valued.

Note that the signified relationship is the same whether we choose to use "but" or "however," that in both cases the compound pattern indicates equality of value, but that the use of the semicolon and conjunctive adverb creates a more dramatic voice.

Both patterns are grammatically correct; the choice is one of style.

Semicolons

 


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Examples:

grn_dimnd.gif (95 bytes) L. Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz for his daughter; nevertheless, the book was much more than a child's story.

grn_dimnd.gif (95 bytes) Baum's book is a political allegory; on the other hand, few people today would recognize the original events in this story.

grn_dimnd.gif (95 bytes) The Wizard of Oz is a story of economic reform. Oz is short for ounce, signifying the gold standard; in addition, the characters represented groups in American society.

 

Semicolons

 

 

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Exercise

Now, write five compound sentences of your own, using just the semicolon and five more using a semicolon and conjunctive adverb (ca).  Check each independent clause (IC) to make sure you have included a subject and a verb. 

If your instructor has assigned this exercise, check the drop-down list to the left for her or his name.


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Semicolons
Last updated
09/10/98
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