Only the semicolon comes close to the comma’s record of misuse and abuse; in fact, the semicolon is often what the misused comma should have been. According to Purdue OWL, semicolons are necessary in three instances:
1. To join 2 independent clauses when the second clause restates the first or when the two clauses are of equal emphasis.
- Road construction in Dallas has hindered travel around town; streets have become covered with bulldozers, trucks, and cones.
2. To join 2 independent clauses when the second clause begins with a conjunctive adverb (however, therefore, moreover, furthermore, thus, meanwhile, nonetheless, otherwise) or a transition (in fact, for example, that is, for instance, in addition, in other words, on the other hand, even so).
- Terrorism in the United States has become a recent concern; in fact, the concern for America’s safety has led to an awareness of global terrorism.
3. To join elements of a series when individual items of the series already include commas.
- Recent sites of the Olympic Games include Athens, Greece; Salt Lake City, Utah; Sydney, Australia; Nagano, Japan.
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