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I enjoy kayaking, hiking, tennis, volleyball, skiing; and I really want to learn how to snowboard this winter.

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Related: How does one correctly use a semicolon? –  aedia λ Dec 1 '11 at 20:37
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An illustrated guide: theoatmeal.com/comics/semicolon –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Dec 1 '11 at 21:26

3 Answers 3

It looks like what you really want is an em dash (—) to go with the asyndeton in your first clause:

I enjoy kayaking, hiking, tennis, volleyball, skiing — and I really want to learn how to snowboard this winter.

The dash turns the balance of the sentence into an anacoluthon (i.e., a change in direction or a break in structure), which is another rhetorical device used to express urgency or excitement. That's what you seem to be going for by piling up words one on the other, and finishing with the climactic announcement about learning to snowboard. The change in direction is from things you currently enjoy to something you intend to do.

Now, strictly speaking, you could view your sentence as a simple enumeration, and that is how others seem to have understood and answered the question. I find nothing wrong with their answers. Still, you may not be asking the right question for what it appears to me that you actually want to express.

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plus one for a nice discussion about em dash. –  Bobbi Bennett Dec 1 '11 at 23:33
    
@LarsTech Boo. Your comment lacks a proper em dash — that's just a hyphen! –  ghoppe Dec 2 '11 at 0:47
    
@Larstech: On Windows, hold down the ALT key and use the number pad to type 0151. On the Mac, it's SHIFT-OPTION plus hyphen. –  Robusto Dec 2 '11 at 1:06
    
I like your explanation. I've never liked semicolons — em dashes felt more natural with the flow of words to me. –  LarsTech Dec 2 '11 at 1:08

There are a couple problems with that sentence. First, a list usually ends with "and (last item)"; you're missing the "and". (There is an argument about whether "and" should be preceeded by a comma; I'm not addressing that here.)

Second, if you want to use the semicolon to separate two clauses, then the clauses must each stand alone. Technically "and I really..." does, but it would be stronger without the "and". With the "and", you could just as easily use a comma instead of the semicolon.

So, to sum up, the following would be correct and better than what you have:

  • I enjoy kayaking, hiking, tennis, volleyball, and skiing; I really want to learn how to snowboard this winter.

  • I enjoy kayaking, hiking, tennis, volleyball, and skiing, and I really want to learn how to snowboard this winter.

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Perhaps the asker is considering "promoting" the clause-joining comma to a semicolon to make it stand out from the list-delimiting commas (especially because he or she has omitted the "and" before the last item). I agree it's unnecessary in this case, but it's not completely without reason. (For the record, I think @Robusto's answer is closest to the mark.) –  John Y Dec 1 '11 at 23:07
    
Someone will probably find an example to contradict me, but at this precise moment I'm inclined to think it's never correct to follow a semicolon with the word "and". –  FumbleFingers Dec 1 '11 at 23:35
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@FumbleFingers It would be correct to follow a semicolon with and if there were many commas, say, because you were rambling on about something, something you couldn't quite put your finger on, but felt the need to emphasize; and there was a major, not minor, break in the sentence. In that case, using a semicolon rather than another comma increases comprehension. Admittedly, it is often better to just rewrite your thoughts into two or more sentences — or use that em dash. –  ghoppe Dec 2 '11 at 0:44
    
@ghoppe: Just because you can write it, doesn't make it valid to me. Clumsy sentence to start with - and it should be a dash, not a semicolon! :) –  FumbleFingers Dec 2 '11 at 3:45

Larry Trask advises

Use a semi-colon to connect two complete sentences not joined by and, or, but, yet or while.

That makes the semi-colon in your example unnecessary.

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