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I'm really confused about the semi colon. From what I read you can use it if you A) need something in-between a punctuation and a comma B) connect two different statements C) both clauses are independent.

I'm having trouble with the sentence below as I don't know what I'm supposed to replace the semicolon with. Do I have to rephrase it? I'm confused because of the 'which' clause, which is dependent on first clause and I need some kind of pause.

The one thing that sets you aside from the other sharks is you: your personality, your experiences and your ambitions; none of which can be replaced by fins and teeth.

  • "none of which can be replaced by fins and teeth" is not an independent clause. – J0e3gan Feb 5 '14 at 5:07
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    Yes. Though I do use the semicolon as a 'super-comma' when there are sublists, and can find 'authorities' licensing that usage, it is best not to in this case as it would not be immediately clear which usage was being employed. As Roger says, one answer is to use a dash; retaining the colon helps the reader understand that the phrase 'your personality ... ambitions' and the clause 'none ... teeth' are not equivalent (the first is an expansive appositive, the second a comment). You could even use a full stop for dramatic emphasis: ... ambitions. None of which can be replaced by fins and teeth. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 5 '14 at 9:24
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I would recommend using a dash there. Using a comma could be confusing because the clause follows directly after a list, and it may trip up a reader who may think that last element is supposed to be part of the list as well.

  • Right the dash! I completely forgot about it, thanks. Yes exactly, that's what I thought. – Tony Fire Feb 5 '14 at 11:09
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Where you can't put a full stop, you generally can't put a semicolon (with the exception of lists, all I can find off the top of my head). When a comma makes a sentence too convoluted (maybe because of previous comma use), you might be looking for a dash.

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