Classic job interview advice: if asked to lunch, never order the spaghetti. It’s almost impossible to eat it with aplomb. Semicolons are a spaghetti dish.
A critical eye can overlook a comma mistake or two without blinking, but a semicolon mistake might as well be red sauce on a white shirt front.
A reminder: A phrase is a group of words that does not include a subject and verb. A clause is one that does.
The four possible structures of a sentence:
- A simple sentence, which contains an independent clause
- A compound sentence, which contains two or more independent clauses connected with a coordinating conjunction or a semicolon
- A complex sentence, which contains one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses
- A compound-complex sentence, which is a hybrid. It is a variation on a compound sentence where a complex sentence has replaced one or both of the independent clauses.
Here are some examples:
Let’s imagine a sentence is a grownup with a job. It doesn’t live at work, though. Nope. It functions equally well away from its paragraph workplace and out on its own because a sentence is fully independent, thankyouverymuch. And independence is not the focus of this post. (Need to review sentence types and the proper punctuation for them? Go here.)