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Thread: Whereas

  1. #1
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Question Whereas

    Hi there. Several times I have met a sentence in which a whereas-clause was given after a semicolon, like this:
    "John went to a circus to see something really boring; whereas Amy decided to see something interesting so she went to a cinema."

    For me, this use is incorrect, as whereas does not begin an independent clause, and I would just use a comma. But I am not the expert here, so please help me with this -- is it a correct use of a semicolon?

    Thanks,
    Nyggus

  2. #2
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Whereas

    I'd prefer a comma there, but some people use a semi-colon as a sort of general-purpose 'heavier sort of comma'. I think they're wrong, but it's a widespread practice - and it doesn't make me lose much sleep.

    b

  3. #3
    nyggus is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Whereas

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    I'd prefer a comma there, but some people use a semi-colon as a sort of general-purpose 'heavier sort of comma'. I think they're wrong, but it's a widespread practice - and it doesn't make me lose much sleep.

    b
    Thanks, BobK. Therefore, I will use a comma even though it won't help you sleep better (hope you sleep like a baby). In general, "general-purpose 'heavier sort of comma'," as you called it, looks strange to me, as a semicolon joins two independent clauses, whereas a comma should not join independent clauses. Therefore, from the grammar point of view, this 'heavier sort of comma' is just incorrect, isn't it?

    Best,
    Nyggus

  4. #4
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    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Whereas

    Quote Originally Posted by nyggus View Post
    Thanks, BobK. Therefore, I will use a comma even though it won't help you sleep better (hope you sleep like a baby). In general, "general-purpose 'heavier sort of comma'," as you called it, looks strange to me, as a semicolon joins two independent clauses, whereas a comma should not join independent clauses. Therefore, from the grammar point of view, this 'heavier sort of comma' is just incorrect, isn't it?

    Best,
    Nyggus
    Punctuation choices have a bit more freedom in standard English than other issues. Some personal style is involved, and there are differences of opinion. In this case, however, I would say that the semicolon use was incorrect for the reasons you've mentioned. Punctuation marks are tools and they were designed for specific purposes. You can use a screw driver as a hammer, but if a hammer were available, why would you?

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