Commas vs. Semicolons in Compound Sentences

To start with, let us understand what makes a compound sentence. A sentence is called a compound sentence when two independent clauses are linked together in some form to make one complete sentence.

Examples:

  • We are inviting the Marshalls home. We want them to have lunch with us.

The above two sentences can be linked together to form one complete sentence. That can happen in two ways:

We are inviting the Marshalls home, and we want them to have lunch with us. Or,

We are inviting the Marshalls home; we want them to have lunch with us.

  • It’s just begun to rain. I am happy that I am home.

The sentence can be written as:

It’s just begun to rain, but I am happy that I am home.

It’s just begun to rain; I am happy that I am home.

Notice that, in most cases, two independent clauses/ sentences can be linked with a “,” or a “;” punctuation mark to make it a compound sentence. A compound sentence with a “,” link is accompanied by a connecting conjunction such as “but,” “and,” “for,” “because,” “nor,” “or,” “yet,” etc. A compound sentence with a “;” link does not include any connecting words.

There is another kind of compound sentence that involves both a comma and a semicolon. After the two independent clauses are linked with a semicolon, the conjuctive adverb following the semicolon (if any) should be followed with a comma. Conjuctive adverbs are words such as “however,” “moreover,” “consequently,” “nevertheless,” “meanwhile,” “therefore,” etc.

Examples:

We are inviting the Marshalls home; subsequently, we want them to have lunch with us.

It’s just begun to rain; however, I am happy that I am home.

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18 Responses to “Commas vs. Semicolons in Compound Sentences”

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