1. sput2001
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    sput2001 New Member

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    Comma or semicolon?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by sput2001, May 5, 2011.

    I'm editing a business report, which has the following sentence:

    "The consumption volume of global wood products stood at 574.7 million cubic meters in 2010; an increase of 2.2% over 2009."

    Should that semicolon be there, or just a comma?

    I'd be grateful for any advice. Thanks in advance!
     
  2. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    The semicolon is permissible there, but a comma would be more usual.
     
  3. Omega14
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    Omega14 Member

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    I would make it a comma or a colon.

    Rachel
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    a comma does it for me...
     
  5. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's one of those places where lots of things could be used. Yes, it could be a colon. It could even be a dash, or the last bit could be in parentheses. But a comma is the simplest and least obtrusive, so if I were writing it then I would use a comma unless I had a particular stylistic reason to use something else. If I were editing it, though, I'd leave the semicolon alone. It's permissible, and I'd assume the original author had made a considered choice.
     
  6. sput2001
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    sput2001 New Member

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    Thanks for the replies, folks.

    I had wondered about using an m-dash, but I think I'll go with the comma. It's written by someone whose first language isn't English, and I guess the semicolon probably isn't a completely informed choice!
     
  7. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    I use this simple rule. If there are two independence sentences, that can stand on their own, that are spliced by a comma then use a semicolon or else it is a comma splice.

    In your example:

    "The consumption volume of global wood products stood at 574.7 million cubic meters in 2010; an increase of 2.2% over 2009."

    These are not two independent sentences so you should use a comma.
     
  8. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    True, but a comma splice is acceptable if what is being spliced is very short. The usual form of Julius Caeser's classic quote is "I came, I saw, I conquered." Semicolons, full stops or exclamation marks would outweigh the actual words, so lighter marks -- commas -- are usual.
     

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