1. protein230
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    protein230 New Member

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    Punctuation help

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by protein230, Nov 16, 2011.

    Which one of the below sentences is correct? FANBOY + transition or just semicolon and transition



    I went to the movies even though my parents told me not to, and as a result, I was grounded for 2 weeks.



    I went to the movies even though my parents told me not to; as a result, I was grounded for 2 weeks.
     
  2. leafmould
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    leafmould Senior Member

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    Welcome!


    I wouldn't use the semicolon.

    I find these versions acceptable:

    I went to the movies even though my parents told me not to, and, as a result, I was grounded for 2 weeks.

    I went to the movies even though my parents told me not to, and as a result I was grounded for 2 weeks.

    I went to the movies even though my parents told me not to. As a result, I was grounded for 2 weeks.

    I went to the movies even though my parents told me not to. As a result I was grounded for 2 weeks.

    The semicolon is often used in lists....


    To make a chair, you will need:

    Wood;

    Screws;

    Glue;

    Appropriate hand tools.
     
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  3. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    The semicolon is okay for joining two related sentences. I wouldn't overuse it, but there's nothing wrong with it used appropriately. Once a writer knows how to use it, it's mostly up to the writer's discretion where to put it.
     
  4. Lightman
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    Lightman Active Member

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    The semi-colon version sounds much better to me.
    This is actually an incorrect usage of the semi-colon. It's also correct to use it in a list if there are appositives in the list. For example:

    The shelves were filled with reference volumes, particularly those relevant to the fields of chemistry and biology, which Father perused with almost obsessive frequency; books of poetry, from which he would often recite – I can recall now how with each melodic syllable my fragmentary memories of Germany would coalesce into something proud and verdant and immense; the complete works of Schopenhauer, whom Father considered to be the greatest thinker of German philosophy; the novels of Mateo Bengoechea, their well traveled pages still as immaculate as the snow on the tips of mountains; and a selection of Greek tragedies – Father particularly admired the work of Sophocles. (Just pulled this out of a short story I wrote a while ago).

    In your example, it is incorrect to use anything but commas to separate the items of your list.
     
  5. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    ", and" and ";" are both fine in those sentences. I won't dare go into US v. UK rules on what happens later in the sentence. ;)
     
  6. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    [Citation needed], as they say in some places. It's mandated by the corporate style I have to use at work.
     
  7. Lightman
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    Lightman Active Member

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    From Wikipedia's article on semi-colons.

    "[Semi-colons should be used] Between items in a series or listing containing internal punctuation, especially parenthetic commas, where the semicolons function as serial commas."

    The style mandated by your employer is non-standard English, unless standards regarding semi-colons vary greatly across the pond.
     
  8. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    The key word is "standards. There isn't a single standard, and there is huge variation within the UK, between the UK and the US, and for all I know within the US. For example, in Noah Lukeman's You have a point there he states that semicolons can be used "when multiple thoughts in a sentence need more separation than merely a comma, need more time and space to be digested". In other words, semicolons in the example above are a stylistic choice, not a grammatical one.
     
  9. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    As a result I was ground for two weeks. << Unacceptable in American English. A comma must come after "As a result."

    In your sentence, because "as a result" is being used as a transition such as "however," "in fact," "In other words," etc, you use a semicolon. I can't remember if this differs in UK English.

    The sentence below is proper American grammar.

     
  10. Lightman
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    Lightman Active Member

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    Perhaps you can make a case for long thoughts that lack internal punctuation, but rendering the aforementioned list as: "To make a chair, you will need wood; screws; glue; appropriate hand tools," is clearly incorrect by any reasonable standard.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Both sentences are fine, except that I think that most style guides would tell you to make it "two weeks" rather than "2 weeks."
     
  12. leafmould
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    leafmould Senior Member

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    Duh! My post got tailed. I've been trying out a free multi-item clipboard program aimed at "improving on the basic Windows clipboard". Well, I'm staying with "basic" :).

    Here's the end of my post, with my example in it:


    The semicolon is often used in lists....


    To make a chair, you will need:

    Wood;

    Screws;

    Glue;

    Appropriate hand tools.



    This wouldn't get you any marks in a grammar test, but I think some do it for a clearer display by having each word item in the list starting with a capital letter. After all, capitals looks odd after commas, don't they? But one doesn't need a capital letter after a semicolon. Others might choose to have nothing after each item and end the list with a full stop, as if it were a sentence....losing even more marks in a test!

    If you need to brush up on this, just Google "how to use a semicolon". All the results I checked at the top of the first results page gave good information.


    On a personal note, I very rarely use a semicolon. It's part of how I live my life - if I can get by without something, I don't bother with it. This means I have plenty of space in the house to lose my socks:).



    But never mind - a good discussion has ensued and everyone seems to be still nicely alive.
     
  13. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    I would write this as:

    To make a chair, you will need: wood, screws, glue and the appropriate hand tools.
     
  14. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    I would go for the semicolon version if I had to choose between those two examples.

    But I would personally write it this way for more emphasize:


    I went to the movies even though my parents told me not to -- as a result -- I was grounded for 2 weeks.


    Also, you should always spell out numbers.
     
  15. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I believe it is acceptable. The placing of commas is more of a stylistic choice than a religious commandment. Commas help control the speed at which a sentence is read, and if the writer wants to speed things along, he may omit commas where other writers would include them. The sense of the sentence is not impaired by the omission of the comma. The comma after "result" is entirely optional.
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i agree with leafmold's post, except i would correct that numeral '2' to spelling it out...
     
  17. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Reasonable" meaning ones that agree with you? As I say, the books I have say it's a stylistic choice, which you or I might or might not like but which we can't call "incorrect".
     
  18. leafmould
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    leafmould Senior Member

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    Aha! My bad, a little. I had in mind a do-it-yourself woodworking magazine when I wrote my example, hence the chosen display, but I gave no hint of that.

    Apologies.

    I WILL try harder :)!
     
  19. leafmould
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    leafmould Senior Member

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    Oh no! My bad......again!

    I copied and pasted the original sentences, and forgot to change the 2. Odd really, because I hate seeing low numbers instead of the spelled word.

    Okay, okay.....I'll stay behind :).


    (I had written "small numbers", but changed it to "low numbers". Can I go now :)?)
     
  20. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I always thought that you used semicolons for a list only if some of the items in the list contained commas, as in:


    To make a chair, you will need: high-quality, kiln-dried wood; screws, either zinc or steel; a saw; a set of instructions; natural, USDA-approved glue; and the appropriate hand tools.


    I'd still probably rewrite that sentence, but am I correct that it's a valid use of semicolons? And if I'm of the school that does want a comma between the second to last and last item of a list, does that last semicolon after "glue" belong there? If it does, would it still belong there if one of the items without commas were the last item, as in the following?

    To make a chair, you will need: high-quality, kiln-dried wood; screws, either zinc or steel; a set of instructions; natural, USDA-approved glue; a saw; and the appropriate hand tools.​


    ChickenFreak
     
  21. leafmould
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    leafmould Senior Member

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    Your second example is a repeat of the first - a copy/paste error, perhaps?

    I would go with this:

    To make a chair, you will need: high-quality, kiln-dried wood; screws, either zinc or steel; a set of instructions; natural, USDA-approved glue; a saw; appropriate hand tools.

    I think you meant to post:

    To make a chair, you will need: high-quality, kiln-dried wood; screws, either zinc or steel; a set of instructions; natural, USDA-approved glue, a saw and the appropriate hand tools.

    That's a tricky one, because I've never dealt with nor read anything about such a style. I would say "no", because it mixes two styles. On the other hand, it does make reading a list flow nicely at the end.


    I've posted elsewhere that I worked on a newspaper years ago, for about four years. One thing I came away with was a sense of what they call "economy in writing", and an obsession to mentally edit anything I read :). So I hope the following suggestions will be taken in the spirit intended - they are alternatives to the choices you made, and NOT corrections; to be considered, and evaluated against the originals:

    "USDA-approved natural glue" (the adjective "natural" moves along to be next to the noun)

    "chairmaking requires" (fewer words)

    "zinc or steel screws" ("either" isn't needed)


    There are many ways of saying the same thing - it's a matter of personal taste and choice.


    Did you notice I got a semicolon in? I hope it's correct :).
     
  22. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I would put all the items with commas first.

    To make a chair, you will need: high-quality, kilm-dried wood; screws, either zinc or steel; natural USDA-approved glue; a set of instructions; the appropriate hand tools; and a saw.
     
  23. leafmould
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    leafmould Senior Member

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    An interesting approach, which I like a lot.

    But are you sure about the "and" with "a saw"?
     
  24. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Hmm, didn't think about that. I guess it's not needed.
     
  25. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    The Oxford Style Manual mandates the final semicolon and the "and".
     

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