Trouble With SEMICOLONS!

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  1. David 470 profile image83
    David 470posted 3 years ago

    For years, semicolons have been my enemy...I fear using them wrong. I fear not using them when they may improve a sentence. I need to know because I don't want my work to be rejected when submitting to editors.

    Is this semicolon (and colon) needed in this sentence or is it optional? "Other primary functions fat serves include: nutrient absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K; insulation for the body, and energy production for the body."

    Or

    "Other primary functions fat serves include: nutrient absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, insulation for the body, and energy production for the body."

    1. Jay Connors profile image85
      Jay Connorsposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      David, I hate using semicolons.  In truth, you never have to use one if you do not want to.  Any sentence you write with a semicolon could function just fine without it.  Also the definition you pulled from online is really vague.  Semicolons are best used to separate sub-ideas all relating to the same bigger idea in one sentence.  In other words, all of the items go together, but require punctuation other than a comma or period.

      To address the comma before and/or, you are not wrong either way.  No matter what anyone tells you, you can add the comma or forego it.  It's called the Oxford comma, and scholars have been arguing about this one forever.  Personally, I always add the comma because it shows inclusion and continuity in a list.  If you do not add that comma, it may leave room for readers to interpret the items before and after the and/or as a phrase describing the first item in the list.

      1. David 470 profile image83
        David 470posted 3 years agoin reply to this

        I agree. Good point. Personally, I like using the comma. Of course, it's probably best to be consistent -- use it all the time or not all in an article, creative writing piece, blog, etc. etc...

    2. TIMETRAVELER2 profile image97
      TIMETRAVELER2posted 3 years agoin reply to this

      David:

      Forget the colon completely and just use commas between your items.

    3. The Examiner-1 profile image72
      The Examiner-1posted 3 years agoin reply to this

      David,
      You can replace the semicolon with a period.
      Your example:
      "Other primary functions fat serves include: Nutrient absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. They are also insulation for the body, and energy production for the body."

      You will notice that I added three words to the second line to make it a  complete sentence.

    4. profile image0
      LisaKeatingposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      English teacher here. I would leave out the comma and use a semi-colon after "body." You were correct in separating your series of items with a semicolon since you have several other internal commas. However, you have to do it in place of both commas. Also, it is okay, but not necessary to use the colon to introduce your list. Usually, you only use the colon if the beginning part says "... include the following: "  or  "...include these: ." Hope that helps.

  2. dwelburn profile image96
    dwelburnposted 3 years ago

    I'm probably not as good with this as some people on here but I think example B works best. Also I don't think you need the comma after 'body'. Either way though it's only minor and would not cause your work to be rejected. Others may know better than me though.

    1. David 470 profile image83
      David 470posted 3 years agoin reply to this

      I have seen some types of writing where comma is dropped before and (in a list) & other types of writing where it is always placed. I remember in college, my teacher said not to use comma before "and" when using list of items -- said something about it being improper or something. Another teacher said opposite...

      Writing seems rather subjective sometimes...Some aspects are inherently wrong, inherently right, or optional depending on circumstance(s).

      Some websites do not like the use of "however" at start of sentence, while other websites (companies etc.) embrace it..

      1. dwelburn profile image96
        dwelburnposted 3 years agoin reply to this

        Yes, sometimes a comma before 'and' works but mostly it doesn't. I don't know the exact rules but I just go by how it looks and sounds when I read it out. I also think you can use 'however' to start a sentence in some circumstances. Same with 'and' and 'but'.

        1. David 470 profile image83
          David 470posted 3 years agoin reply to this

          I was referring to the oxford comma (also called serial comma I think) like another poster mentioned . There are definitely circumstances where no comma is required before "and."

  3. Phyllis Doyle profile image95
    Phyllis Doyleposted 3 years ago

    First of all, what you are showing is a colon, not a semicolon. You do not need the colon or a semicolon in the sentence. A colon is two dots, one above the other, and a semicolon is a dot and a comma with the dot above the comma.

    1. David 470 profile image83
      David 470posted 3 years agoin reply to this

      I was referring to semicolon later on in the sentence.

      "Semicolon Used to Clarify a List of Items When Each Item has Punctuation Within Itself." I see this stated on many websites.

  4. CassandraCae profile image89
    CassandraCaeposted 3 years ago

    Neither one of these are good uses of them.  I would avoid them entirely,  If you need to express a new idea start a sentence.  I would write the above sentence as

    "Other primary functions fat serves include nutrient absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), insulation for the body, and energy production for the body."

    With a little thought you can almost always get around them.  It is rare that I see them used correctly.  I finally had to sit down with someone I knew that knows how to properly use colons and semicolons to get a full explanation and we worked out LOTS of examples, I still goof it up.

    1. David 470 profile image83
      David 470posted 3 years agoin reply to this

      I actually was going to write the sentence like you did. I could obviously change it to that.

      You say they are not good. Do you mean they are wrong? Or merely not utilized "optimally?" Some articles I read usually avoid semicolons or use them sparingly. However, I have seen some articles that use semicolins with abundance.

      SEMICOLONS ARE THE DEVIL tongue

      1. dwelburn profile image96
        dwelburnposted 3 years agoin reply to this

        Personally I use them very sparingly. They have their uses but are not often required.

    2. TIMETRAVELER2 profile image97
      TIMETRAVELER2posted 3 years agoin reply to this

      Cassandra Cae:

      That is exactly correct and is basically what I told David would be best.

      I used to be an English teacher.

  5. bettyshares profile image75
    bettysharesposted 3 years ago

    This is interesting to know thanks.

 
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