Is this ok?

I’m in need of a punching bag; anyone want to volunteer?

Do both sides of the semicolon have to be the same syntax — that is, both questions or both statements?

And considering the latter half does not stand on its own as a statement, can I use it in a semicolon like this?

  • Second half is a sentence, but the does is implied. – bib Aug 23 '13 at 2:53
  • Luke has also asked this at earlier at Is this sentence proper? – Andrew Leach Aug 23 '13 at 8:33
  • Note that OP has asked to delete the duplicate question & it currently has more close votes. Hence it appears that this one should be retained (subject to any different close reasons). – TrevorD Aug 23 '13 at 10:36
  • Unless you terminate the first half with a full and complete closure of thought using a period, the second half cannot originate. The question arises from a previous statement of thought. This is not a rule of grammar. Use a period, not a semicolon. – Kris Aug 24 '13 at 10:53

The Chicago Manual of Style says:

In regular prose, a semicolon is most commonly used between two independent clauses not joined by a conjunction to signal a closer connection between them than a period would.

The key word is independent; neither clause has any syntactic influence on the other. (The definition of an independent clause is one that can stand on its own as a sentence.) The close connection between the two clauses simply has to be clear somehow.

This article bemoans the much diminished use of the semicolon, and lists these rules for its use:

Rule #1: Use a semicolon to replace a period.

Rule #2: Use a semicolon as a super-comma.

Rule #3: Use a semicolon before a conjunctive adverb.

The article concludes:

To recap, a semicolon is used in place of a period when two clauses are closely related; to separate a very complicated or long list; and with a conjunctive adverb.

  • 1
    I feel like If neither clause has any syntactic influence on another than it seems that a sentence like "Did he just see me; I swore he saw me?" would be correct, but that seems way off to me. – Luke Aug 23 '13 at 3:57
  • 1
    Or something like "Did you want to go the store; did Jessica want to go to the store?" – Luke Aug 23 '13 at 3:58
  • Both examples sound like perfectly normal dialog to me. – Gnawme Aug 23 '13 at 6:42

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