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I thought of this while walking and wanted to write it down. I would like to know if I am using punctuation correctly in this sentence-- particularly the use of the colon and semi-colon. And please feel free to correct any other grammatical errors.

Both wealth and poverty can produce a mindset of contempt and judgement toward the sufferings of others: the rich, because they are unacquainted with grief and so think that it is through some fault of the sufferer that they are so; the poor, because they have grown cold through their own hardships and have little compassion left to share. It is not a prejudice unique to any social class.

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The colon and semicolon are used properly in your sentence. The colon correctly introduces clauses of explanation related to the first part of the preceding clause, and the semicolon separates two clauses which are related, but not joined by a coordinating conjunction, such as and.

I would venture to say that the rich and the poor aren't the best terms to use in the explanation, since you began by addressing wealth vs. poverty. I'm not sure that it's wrong, but subjectively it feels like a disconnect. I would say:

Both wealth and poverty can produce a mindset of contempt and judgement toward the sufferings of others: wealth, because the rich are unacquainted with grief and so think that it is through some fault of the sufferer that they are so; poverty, because the poor have grown cold through their own hardships and have little compassion left to share. It is not a prejudice unique to any social class.

  • I see what you're saying. I switch from addressing two states to addressing two groups of people. At least, that's the best way I can explain it. Thank you! – Paige Haas Dec 20 '14 at 22:46
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    @PaigeHaas Yes, though the reason I say that it might not be wrong is that either way (wealth or the rich), you're discussing generalities. When you say wealth, you are really talking about the effect wealth has on people. It just sounds better if you explain a statement by using the same terms that were originally used. (If I fully answered your question, you can accept my answer by clicking the check mark under the arrows next to it!) – Daniel Dec 20 '14 at 22:49
  • A beautiful piece of writing, punctuated perfectly, and made even better by judicious minimal editing. – Brian Hitchcock Dec 21 '14 at 3:50
  • @BrianHitchcock Thanks (don't know if this comment will get taken down for lack of relevant content but wanted to say thanks!) – Paige Haas Dec 22 '14 at 23:26

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