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Are these two sentences both correct and equivalent?

People say stuff like "all lawyers are liars", but it's not true.

People say stuff like "all lawyers are liars"; it's not true.

Is there any difference in nuance or anything at all?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The semicolon is a substitute for the comma and conjunction.

Both options are correct, but there is a subtle difference. A semicolon doesn't specify which conjunction. With the semicolon, your sentence could be interpreted as:

People say stuff like "all lawyers are liars", and they don't know what they're talking about.
People say stuff like "all lawyers are liars", for they don't know what they're talking about.
People say stuff like "all lawyers are liars", so they don't know what they're talking about.
People say stuff like "all lawyers are liars", but they don't know what they're talking about.

To me, these are all possible ways of reading the sentence with the semicolon. But they are both technically correct.

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Yes, because "but" has a conjunctive function.

However it is then up to the reader to deduce the relationship between phrases, so such usage may be ambiguous in certain circumstances.

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