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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?

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1 Answer 1

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.

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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
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@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
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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
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@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

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