There’s one bad habit that some writers fall into. They begin to assume that the introductory words and phrases listed earlier are always used with semicolons and are never used in any other ways in a sentence. Of course, that’s not true. These words and phrases are not used with a semicolon unless an independent clause (or an independent combination of clauses) appears both before and after the semicolon. All these words and phrases can be used with semicolons, but they can all be used in other spots in sentences, too. Study these correct examples and then complete Exercise 3.11:

1. (a) Craig always has something to complain about; for instance, he might be upset about lumpy mashed potatoes one night and the growing national debt the next.

(b) Craig’s complaints, for instance, cover everything from lumpy mashed potatoes to the growing national debt.

2. (a) The doctor predicted a good outcome for the operation; as a matter of fact, she almost guaranteed total recovery.

(b) The doctor’s prediction, as a matter of fact, was almost totally optimistic.

Remember, there are no words or phrases that are always used with semicolons. All of these introductory words and phrases, can be used in other ways in sentences. They don’t always signal the need for a semicolon.

Exercise 3.11

Punctuate the following sentences. Some sentences call for no additional punctuation, some for commas only, and some for a semicolon and a comma.

1. (a) Robert had a great idea.

(b) His idea however was not immediately accepted by the group.

(c) Robert had a great idea however it was not immediately accepted by the group.

2. (a) Christina was more than a passing acquaintance of Ben’s in fact she was his closest friend.

(b) Christina was very close to Ben.

(c) She was in fact his best friend in the world.

3. (a) Mitchell wants to graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering at the end of his college days.

(b) This highly motivated young man is therefore going to have to work hard and play little during the next four years.

(c) Mitchell wants to graduate from college with a degree in mechanical engineering therefore he is going to have to work and play little during the next four years.

4. (a) The exact time that language skills emerge in children varies greatly among individuals.

(b) Language skills emerge at greatly varying times in the development of children for example some toddlers begin talking in short sentences around the age of two.

(c) Other completely normal youngsters for example speak very little until they’re three.

5. (a) John and Marsha are debating whether they should go with periwinkle blue or China red for their new carpet.

(b) Marsha thinks periwinkle blue would be an elegant choice on the other hand John is afraid that blue might make the room seem cold.

(c) John on the other hand thinks that China red would be warm and lively.