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  1. #1
    sharanbr is offline Junior Member
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    Join Date
    Nov 2007

    use of punctuation

    I was going through an example of pretty big sentence and found the following.

    "Now if nature should intermit her course and leave altogether, though it
    were but for awhile, the observation of her own laws; if those principal
    and mother elements of the world, whereof all things in this lower world
    are made, should lose the qalities which now they have; if the frame of
    that heavenly arch erected over our heads should loosen and dissolve itself; if celestial spheres should forget their wonted motions, and by irregula"

    The question is around the start of sentence "if those pri" and "if the frame of". Since the sentence starts with a subordinate conjunction (due to if conjunction), it is a dependant clause and I would expect a comma and not a semicolon.

    Am I right here ? or this really is not a subordinate conjunction ..


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    Re: use of punctuation

    Actually, what you have is a list of subjunctive clauses. The punctuation rules follow more-or-less the same rules as for any list: the items are normally separated by commas; but if one or more of the items already has a comma in it, you need to separate them with semicolons:

    • apples,
    • bananas,
    • pears,
    • ...


    • apples, some of which are red;
    • bananas, subject to availability;
    • pears, which I hate;
    • ...

    So it is with lists of subordinate clauses:

    • if nature should intermit her course,
    • if principle elements should lose qualities,
    • if the frame should dissolve itself,
    • ...


    • if nature should intermit her course, though it were for a while;
    • if principle elements, whereof all things are made, should lose qualities;
    • if the frame should dissolve itself;
    • ...

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