English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Suppose the following sentence:

  • When the sun comes in the morning; the sky is blue.

Are "When the sun comes in the morning" and "the sky is blue" two clauses of the sentence? So, is it correct to use a semicolon?

share|improve this question
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Yes, those are both clauses, but it is not correct to use a semicolon. You must join them with a comma.

This is because those are not two independent clauses (essentially, two complete sentences). Rather, the first one is governed by the conjunction when.

share|improve this answer
I was told that a sentence must contain a subject and verb phrase which I think are "sun" and "comes in the morning". So, what makes a complete sentence or independent clause exactly? Any way to recognize it? Thanks. – user113212 Dec 25 '12 at 23:12
@user113212 It’s subordinate clause not an independent one because it is being governed by a subordinating conjunction. If you did not have the when there, it would be two independent clauses, but the conjunction joins them together, putting the subordinate one under the main clause. – tchrist Dec 25 '12 at 23:17
Does the sun ever "come"? Solar flares? Doesn't it usually & idiomatically come up or rise in the morning? (NB: No boring remarks about astronomy, please. This is English usage, not astrophysics.) – user21497 Dec 25 '12 at 23:42
@BillFranke Here comes the sun, doo doo doo doo, Here comes the sun, And I say It's alright – StoneyB Dec 26 '12 at 0:34
@StoneyB: True enough, but the structure is different from "When the sun comes". ?"Here comes up the sun" isn't idiomatic & probably isn't even grammatical except in an extreme case of poetic license. "Here rises the sun" might be reasonable in archaic dialogue & poetry, though. While one exception can disprove an absolute, it does more to "prove the rule (of thumb)" than to destroy its validity, methinks. – user21497 Dec 26 '12 at 1:18

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.