In some legal documents, sentences can be the lengths of paragraphs due to semicolons. What are the grammatical rules for the use, or maximum number, of semicolons for non-legal writing?

Here is a specific example I am struggling with: IC; (transitional phrase), IC; IC.

Independent clause = IC.

Does my example use semicolons validly?

closed as primarily opinion-based by FumbleFingers, tchrist, Edwin Ashworth, Drew, anongoodnurse Jan 27 '15 at 5:02

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Are you seriously asking us whether the exact text IC; (transitional phrase), IC; IC. (with no other context) constitutes enough/too many/too few semicolons? All I can say is the (transitional phrase), bit seems somewhat syntactically divorced from anything I can meaningfully attach it to. – FumbleFingers Jan 26 '15 at 18:25
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    There is no limit to how many semicolons one can use. Punctuation =/= grammar. There is a stylistic guideline, however, which is to use a semicolon when it clarifies meaning and not to use one when it obscures meaning. The same goes for all punctuation. – Anonym Jan 26 '15 at 18:55

There are no upper limits on how many semicolons you can use; in fact, there aren't set limits on the number of adjectives you can use to describe a noun, or the number of clauses that can be attached to another relative clause, either; grammar doesn't normally prescribe such limits; leave it to the legal profession to stretch the boundaries of sensibility, though; yes, your example is valid, although it might be prudent to see whether it wouldn't read better if one of those semicolons were converted to a full stop.


There are no grammatical rules that do what you want. Sorry. It may be unwise to use many semicolons because it makes a text less comprehensible, but you can't expect to find a remedy in a grammar.

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