1. abby75
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    abby75 Member

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    Is this correct use of a semi colon?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by abby75, Jul 31, 2012.

    The boy smiled as his legs pumped the pedals; up and down, round and round, the motion soothed him.

    I think it is, but not entirely sure?
     
  2. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    I don't know if it is "correct", but I think it is unneeded. A period and capital would serve as well and avoid the issue. There is another recent thread which discusses how semicolons are not popular in US fiction.
     
  3. abby75
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    abby75 Member

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    Actually I agree, I think a little more thought and I could have answered my own question, a full stop is better!
     
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's correct but as you've already said yourself, full stop is better :)
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's syntactically legal. A semicolon can act as a "soft period" to separate two sentences and yet imply a closer link than normal between adjacent sentences. The first word of independent clause following the semicolon is not capitalized as it would be if a period were used.

    You are well-advised to use semicolons in fiction with restraint, if at all. Overuse of them can alienate some readers, and more importantly, many publishers, and they vary in what they consider overuse.

    You'll never get in trouble by shunning them.
     
  6. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi.

    Commas, semicolons, fullstops (etc) are like musical
    notation. They signify pauses in the flow of text.

    Comma is a light pause. Fullstop is a strong pause.
    Each have different results.

    The semicolon is somewhere between them, and
    has its own effect. The semicolon is good when
    you want to keep a certain flow or when you
    want to direct the cadence in a particular way.

    It's your job as a writer to make the choice.
    Ask yourself: what kind of effect am I going for?
     
  7. abby75
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    abby75 Member

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    Thanks for that. I think a semi colon would have worked and it was my first instinct to use it, but it seems a full stop is safer! It's been 17 years since I last sat in a classroom, so although I think I have a pretty good understanding of grammar sometimes the finer points elude me!
     
  8. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're welcome.

    But please do forgive my ignorance: why exactly would a fullstop be the 'safer' option?
    If you could explain, that would be great. I'd like to critically examine the
    answer.

    Thanks.

    lol

    Put the thesaurus down before you do yourself a mischief.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I haven't opened a thesaurus for many, many months, thankyouverymuch...

    As for why a full stop is a safer option, asked and answered in the OTHER semicolon thread you were arguing in. Do not restart the argument.
     
  10. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Basically, because it's simpler. "Safer" is not always "better", though: it depends on your readership.
     
  11. Kenn
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    Kenn Member

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    Great explanation and the comparison to musical notation is perfect!
     
  12. Kena Edawna
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    Kena Edawna New Member

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    This is excellent, I like the metaphor of the musical notation and semicolons. i'm saving this.
     
  13. HongKong
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    HongKong New Member

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    Use a colon because your using a list.
     
  14. ketamineman
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    ketamineman Member

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    i would never use a semicolon. i think it is too much like business english (does this make sense)
     
  15. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    It makes sense, but I think it's too simplistic. What if you want it to sound like business English, for example, quoting a memo a character has written? And done right I don't think they do sound like business English. Try reading some Ray Bradbury. I find his work to be beautifully written, and he uses semicolons -- sparingly, but to great effect. The very second paragraph of The Martian Chronicles, for example, contains a semicolon. The paragraph is a sequence of very short, direct sentences. By joining two with a semicolon he avoids the passage sounding clipped and choppy, and there's also a subtle effect of sentences tending to get shorter as the icicles he describes melt (the sort of effect that almost certainly wasn't consciously planned, but just "sounded better" to Bradbury's skilled ear). It certainly doesn't read like business English.
     

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