1. punk
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    punk Active Member

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    Semi-colons and stuph

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by punk, Mar 15, 2011.

    After getting a 1.9 on grammar on my last paper, I am extremely nervous about using these stupid semi-colons. Mind looking over some of these? It would be greatly appreciated...


    In an environment such as this, adverse relationships are bound to form between the two groups; relationships incurring practices such as bullying, abandonment, and segregation, only furthering an already emotionally disturbed subject into a deeper depressive state.


    When a person is excluded from society, a behavioral issue is often the cause; when a person is excluded from society, they are forced into creative thought for learning.


    Within this disparity, depressed individuals may find the motivation for creative thought; a motivation that would be otherwise absent if they were happily connected to populist ideas.

    Thank you!
     
  2. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    A semicolon is normally used whenever there are two independant clauses that has the same idea, such as I lost my job; therefore, my mother kicked me out of the house. You should not use semicolons whenever an indepentant clause of a sentence has a dependant clause, or if the other part of the sentnece is an incomplete sentence, such as If I lose my job, my mother will kick me out the house. Instead, a comma is used, I think.

    In an environment such as this, adverse relationships are bound to form between the two groups; therefore, relationships incurring practices such as bullying, abandonment, and segregation, only furthering an already emotionally disturbed subject into a deeper depressive state.

    The sencond part of the sentence seem to be a fragment, because there isn't a verb in that part. So don't add a simicolon, since the second sentece is a dependant clasue. In an environment such as this, adverse relationships are bound to form between the two groups; relationships incure practicies such as bullying, abandonment, and segregation, only furthering an already emotionally disturbed subject into a deeper depressive state.

    But I can be totally wrong on this, because I'm good with grammar myself, and I am sure that someone else can help you better than I can.
     
  3. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    The second one reads fine to me (though I would remove the redundant "when a person. . . society" if you want to use a semicolon, otherwise it would be stylistically better in two sentences). In both the first and the third, everything after the semicolon isn't a complete sentence. The general rule for semicolons is that they connect two complete sentences that would otherwise be able to stand on their own; a semicolon makes a stronger connection between two sentences with related thoughts. (See how I did that? Those would have easily worked as separate sentences, but I wanted them connected, so I used a semicolon).

    What you're trying to do in the first and third sentences is use a subordinate clause (Is that right? It's been forever since I learned these things.) to further explain something in the first sentence, which you need to use a comma for, instead.
     
  4. Ion
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    Ion Senior Member

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    Semicolons are easier to use than you think.

    #1 use: link two closely related sentences of equal importance.

    He cared for the yard. She cared for the house.
    becomes
    He cared for the yard; she cared for the house.
    You could put either first, because they're of equal importance. It helps to tie them together with a semicolon to help show this equivalence.

    #2: the 'however'

    This is probably the easiest way in which to use semicolons.

    I don't like milk; however, that doesn't mean it isn't good for you.

    Words like 'alternatively', 'additionally', or anything that introduces a subordinate sentence can be prefaced with a semicolon.

    That's pretty much it for sentence writing with the semicolon. Other uses are strictly academic in my experience.

    It's nice to be able to use semicolons; still, if you're not confident using them, it's not worth messing up your writing to include them. Practice with sentences that you're sure you can do right with the semicolon so you can get a feel for when to use them yourself.
     
  5. punk
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    punk Active Member

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    But I thought the general rule was to use a semi-colon if the dependent clause is referring to the independent for it's purpose?

    Well thanks guys, I think they'll work.
     
  6. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    1.9...out of 5, is that how the system goes?

    Punk. My concern here is not about the deployment (questionable or otherwise ) of semi-colons but, flatly, whether what you're setting down is clear and intelligible.

    Broadly, I feel the writing here is tending towards that sort of academic writing - which has been often lampooned - which is almost always ugly, often stretches sense and certainly lacks clarity.

    You say there are two distinct groups. You say the relationship between the two is adverse in character. The informed reader will keep in mind the literal - the meaningful rather than the wooly - definition of adverse....then you speak of abandonment and segregation...two things which are not possible (or must be assumed) given what you've already given us. Certainly, it is all less clear than it should be.

    BTW, as I see it, the difficulties associated with this sort of writing are a product of the writing not the writer. The brightest minds, trapped in this mode of expression, will end up writing near nonsense. Re the semi-colons. I agree with Arathald: 1 and 3 aren't quite right.
     
  7. punk
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    punk Active Member

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    By literal definition of adverse, do you mean 'different' and 'contrasting'? Because that is what I aimed for. The context I gave makes it sound like the bad adversity, but in the paper I had established social stigma as a dividing factor between the "normal" population and the behaviorally disordered. In an environment where an individual is viewed as a legitimate threat (that's what the research showed), he/she is likely to treated unpleasantly. The including of "furthering into a depressive state" is more of a coincidence and a transition into my next paragraph, which deals with learned helplessness from social distance.

    And how are they not right? How can I fix them? I've never really had an English teacher until this year (freshman in college!)... thanks for your help
     
  8. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    As has been pointed out, what follows the semicolon there couldn't stand as a sentence, which rings alarm bells for the use of the semicolon. What you actually have is a single (complicated) noun phrase. What you actually need to make sense of that sentence is a colon, not a semicolon:
    In an environment such as this, adverse relationships are bound to form between the two groups: relationships incurring practices such as bullying, abandonment, and segregation, only furthering an already emotionally disturbed subject into a deeper depressive state.​
    If you are struggling with semicolons, though, that's probably going to be hard for you to work out so it would probably be better to completely recast the sentence.
    The semicolon there looks fine to me. I don't like the sentence, particularly the repetition of "when a person is excluded from society", so i would say:
    When a person is excluded from society, a behavioral issue is often the cause and they are forced into creative thought for learning.​
    If you want to keep the original structure, though, the semicolon is right.
    Again what comes after your semicolon is just a noun phrase, so it should be a colon rather than a semicolon. But is a "disparity" really something one can be "within"? What does it mean for an individual to be "happily connected to populist ideas"? Again the sentence really needs a complete re-write.

    What these examples suggest to me is that your problem is not so much with the use of semicolons (although there is an issue there). It's more that you are using complex sentence structures as a substitute for working out what you really want to say.
     
  9. punk
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    punk Active Member

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    In an environment such as this, adverse relationships are bound to form between the two groups, incurring practices such as bullying, abandonment, and segregation, only furthering an already emotionally disturbed subject into a deeper depressive state.

    So, would this be correct?

    I think I write like I talk, which is why I used that repetitive structure. But I changed the first and the third sentences and I like them more than before. As for the second one, that sentence preceded my thesis, which basically stated that there is more than just a correlation between behavioral disorders and creativity, hence the repetitive nature.


    Well I considered using that, but this seems to hint at the creative thought being dependent upon having a behavioral issue (which is true, but I'm reserving for in my paper). This sentence was designed to establish the correlation, but the thesis sentence after it was designed to suggest a causal relationship between the two.
     
  10. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are different styles for comma use, so "correct" is a bit vague. I'd lose some of the commas if I were phrasing it this way:
    In an environment such as this adverse relationships are bound to form between the two groups, incurring practices such as bullying, abandonment and segregation, only furthering an already emotionally disturbed subject into a deeper depressive state. ​
    I also don't see how the practices are "incurred", and I wonder whether you mean "producing" or "leading to". And I'm not happy with the construction "furthering ... into" which I don't think makes sense. You already have "deeper", so you don't need another word to show that the state is relative. That makes the fix easier. Also you could provide a cue to make the causal chain adverse relationships -> practices -> deeper depression clearer. So now I have:
    In an environment such as this adverse relationships are bound to form between the two groups, leading to practices such as bullying, abandonment and segregation that can drive an already emotionally disturbed subject into a deeper depressive state.​
    I assume that in the specialism within which you are working there is a distinction between "depression" and "a depressive state". Otherwise you could simplify it further:
    In an environment such as this adverse relationships are bound to form between the two groups, leading to practices such as bullying, abandonment and segregation that can drive an already emotionally disturbed subject into deeper depression.​
    You could now split it into two sentences, of course. It depends on whether you consider the two steps in the causal chain to be two ideas or consider the causal chain to be one idea. I'd go for one idea, and the sentence isn't too unwieldy for academic writing, so I'd leave it as one sentence.
    That sort of repetition is a standard rhetorical device, of course, but academic essays are not rhetoric. A lot of the skill of writing comes down to choosing the right tropes for the register.
    It's not clear that the original didn't do that. Largely because it's not clear what the original was actually trying to say.[/QUOTE]
     

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