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In reading the contents of a card, I have come across the following doubt regarding joining the two clauses with a semi colon or keeping them as two separate sentences. The phrase is the following:

Thank you for all of your help these past days; without which, my study would not have been as successful.

The doubt is with the semicolon. As you can see, the first clause stands alone as a grammatically sound sentence: "Thank you for all of your help these past days".

However, my doubt is about the second part: "without which, my study would not have been as successful" can not necessarily stand alone in the same sense.

My question is: Does the fact that the second part of this phrase begins with the preposition without permit the use of the semicolon? Or, is it more grammatically sound to split the sentence into two separate sentences in which the without which refers to the time in the first?

Any insight?

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    Punctuation is about, well, punctuation. It is not about grammar. You can leave any and all punctuation out of the sentence and still have it be just as grammatical as before. In fact, that's exactly what you do every time you speak. – RegDwigнt Dec 10 '13 at 11:56
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    However I pause far too long at the semicolon. I would rewrite it. If you lose the these past days it will work better and I imagine they know what help they gave when – mplungjan Dec 10 '13 at 13:00
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‘Without’ has nothing to do with it; ‘which’ is the crucial word here.

A semicolon is used to join two independent clauses. ‘Which’ is a relative pronoun and as such only found in dependent clauses. If you wish to separate the two clauses with a semicolon, you must make sure that both clauses are independent. You can do that here simply by replacing the relative pronoun ‘which’ with a corresponding personal pronoun: ‘it’.

Thank you for all your help these past days; without it, my study would not have been as successful.

If you want to keep the relative pronoun, you should use a punctuation mark that can be used to set off dependent clauses: the colon.

Thank you for all your help these past days, without which my study would not have been as successful.

(Note also that ‘all of your help’ is more colloquial than ‘all your help’ and as such perhaps not as well-suited for this context.)

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A semicolon or a period won't work here, but a comma will. After a semicolon or a period, the reader expects an independent clause, and "without which my study would not have been as successful" can't stand on its own.

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    Exactly. This is the opposite of a comma splice; this is a semicolon fracture. – John Lawler Dec 10 '13 at 15:37

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