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    #1

    Semicolon

    I don't understand why the semicolon in the sentence below is correct; I've been told that it is.

    "In 1960 there were 5 lawyers in this county; today there are 125."

    For the semicolon to be correct, "today there are 125" must be an independent clause, which is defined as a group of words that contains a subject and verb and expresses a complete thought (Purdue OWL: Independent and Dependent Clauses). I don't think the clause in question fulfills the last criterion. If you were to come up to someone and say, "Today there are 125," he/she would not understand you. He/she might reply, "Today there are 125 what?" Therefore, "today there are 125" does not express a complete thought; it cannot stand on its own.

    What do you think?

    Thanks!

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Semicolon

    Quote Originally Posted by Jasmin165 View Post
    I don't understand why the semicolon in the sentence below is correct; I've been told that it is.

    "In 1960 there were 5 lawyers in this county; today there are 125."

    For the semicolon to be correct, "today there are 125" must be an independent clause, which is defined as a group of words that contains a subject and verb and expresses a complete thought (Purdue OWL: Independent and Dependent Clauses). I don't think the clause in question fulfills the last criterion. If you were to come up to someone and say, "Today there are 125," he/she would not understand you. He/she might reply, "Today there are 125 what?" Therefore, "today there are 125" does not express a complete thought; it cannot stand on its own.

    What do you think?

    Thanks!
    I think the semicolon is acceptable. It joins two closely-related sentences.
    The business about a sentence containing a "complete thought" has never been proven by psychoneurolinguists, cognitive scientists or anyone else; it's a conventional definition that is very hard to apply. What's a complete thought?

    "I think the semicolon is acceptable." is obviously a sentence, but it is not a complete thought because I must have in mind which semicolon I'm thinking about - and that occurred in your post.

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    #3

    Re: Semicolon

    Semicolon or colon, because you need a longer pause than a comma plus the fact that although related the two parts are separate.
    Alternatively you could say: '......in this county, yet today there are 125'.

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    #4

    Re: Semicolon

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I think the semicolon is acceptable. It joins two closely-related sentences.
    The business about a sentence containing a "complete thought" has never been proven by psychoneurolinguists, cognitive scientists or anyone else; it's a conventional definition that is very hard to apply. What's a complete thought?

    "I think the semicolon is acceptable." is obviously a sentence, but it is not a complete thought because I must have in mind which semicolon I'm thinking about - and that occurred in your post.
    Would you say that the semicolon in the following sentence is correct as well?

    "Only simple advice can be given as regards unexpected ideas; namely, that you should be ready for them and fasten them to the memory when they appear."

    Thanks!

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    #5

    Re: Semicolon

    Quote Originally Posted by Jasmin165 View Post
    Would you say that the semicolon in the following sentence is correct as well?

    "Only simple advice can be given as regards unexpected ideas; namely, that you should be ready for them and fasten them to the memory when they appear."

    Thanks!
    I wouldn't use it; I'd use a dash. There are areas where "correctness" becomes a nebulous concept, and I wouldn't argue one way or the other about this example.

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    #6

    Re: Semicolon

    Quote Originally Posted by Jasmin165 View Post
    Would you say that the semicolon in the following sentence is correct as well?

    "Only simple advice can be given as regards unexpected ideas; namely, that you should be ready for them and fasten them to the memory when they appear."

    Thanks!
    Personally I would use the colon, but semicolon would be a second choice.

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    #7

    Re: Semicolon

    Quote Originally Posted by apex2000 View Post
    Personally I would use the colon, but semicolon would be a second choice.
    If you were to use the colon, you'd probably have to get rid of "namely."

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    #8

    Re: Semicolon

    Quote Originally Posted by Jasmin165 View Post
    If you were to use the colon, you'd probably have to get rid of "namely."
    Yes, I agree. I like the semi-colon there.

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    #9

    Re: Semicolon

    Quote Originally Posted by Jasmin165 View Post
    If you were to use the colon, you'd probably have to get rid of "namely."
    Why?

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    #10

    Re: Semicolon

    Quote Originally Posted by apex2000 View Post
    Why?
    Because a colon tells the reader that what follows it explains what precedes it. "Namely" performs the same function, so it would be redundant to write "namely."

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