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This is the second half of a sentence that uses a semi-colon, and it appeared incorrect to me because I thought this part was a dependent clause. But I am not sure.

They launched into a war that shaped America to be what it is today; a strong powerful country, who will fight for their rights.

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    It might be helpful if you provided the first part of the sentence as well. – Barrie England Dec 6 '13 at 20:06
  • They launched into a war that shaped America to be what it is today; a strong powerful country, who will fight for their rights. – ngblanchard Dec 6 '13 at 20:16
  • It's not a clause, but a NP. The semicolon should be a colon. – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 6 '13 at 20:18
  • Yes, because the second part is a dependent clause, right? – ngblanchard Dec 6 '13 at 20:19
  • who will &c is a dependent clause, but it modifies a ... country, which is a noun phrase. – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 6 '13 at 20:20
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I agree the full sentence would help. Lacking that,

"a strong powerful country, who will fight for their rights." is not a dependent clause; it is a noun phrase (a strong powerful country) which is modified by a relative clause (who will fight for their rights) (thank you StoneyB). Still, it does not express a complete thought.

Therefore, it should not follow a semi colon, for semicolons join two independent clauses (when they're not separating items in a list that already involve commas.)

It would be a wrong use of a semi colon here:

I love Liechtenstein; a strong powerful country, who will fight for their rights.

correct (grammatically):

I love Liechtenstein; it is a strong powerful country, who(which?) will fight for their rights.

source: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/engagement/2/1/44/

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  • I think not. It's not any sort of clause; it's a noun phrase which is modified by a relative clause. The subject of will fight is who, which refers to the preceding noun phrase. – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 6 '13 at 20:29
  • Susan, @Stoney is correct. “a strong powerful country, who will fight for their rights” is not a clause. It is a noun phrase with an embedded clause. “Who will fight for their rights” is a dependent clause, but for the whole thing to be a clause, it would have to have a verb outside the embedded clause as well. (That does not make what you say about semicolons incorrect—a dangling noun phrase should no more follow a semicolon than a dependent clause should.) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 6 '13 at 20:36
  • No need for apologies: that one point aside, it's a good answer. In fact your correct version anticipates JBJ's comment about needing a verb. The thing to do now is to edit it. – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 6 '13 at 20:51
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A semi colon is the wrong symbol to use here. a colon is the correct symbol. Also, "country" should be considered singular and "who will fight for its rights" is correct, not "theirs."

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  • However, the first word of the quotation is they, presumably referring to the early settlers, so changing their to its would be a mistake. – Tim Lymington Feb 6 '14 at 21:59

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