2

This is for a cover letter. Please help!

"I speak Spanish; I have a working familiarity with French and I am currently teaching myself Arabic."

4

I would itemize it as a list, sorted by level of familiarity (descending).

I am fluent in Spanish, I have a working knowledge of French, and I am currently teaching myself Arabic


In your original sentence, there are three distinct clauses:

  • I speak Spanish
  • I have a working familiarity with French
  • I am currently teaching myself Arabic

It is awkward to join the last two with a conjunction, then use a semi-colon to tack that conjoined sentence onto the first one. Strictly speaking it is grammatically correct, but it is inconsistent and awkward.

0

Definition of semicolon: A punctuation mark indicating a pause, typically between two main clauses, that is more pronounced than that indicated by a comma.
Source: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com

There's nothing incorrect about the semicolon in your example, although a period may 'appear' better.

"I speak Spanish. I have a working familiarity with French and (I) am currently teaching myself Arabic."

Note: My recommendation splits the sentence based on two aspects: 1. Fluency in Spanish. 2. Familiarity and efforts to learn another.

  • Grammatically, this is fine. But mfoy_ correctly judges that the independent clauses are so closely parallel that one sentence, using no more than commas to separate them, is the better format. He further gives a good reason for putting the clauses in a certain order. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 17 '15 at 22:13
  • Good. But what do we think about the repetition of "I" in the answer? I'd think "I am fluent in Spanish, have a working knowledge of French, and am currently teaching myself Arabic" would look better. My recommendation splits the sentence based on two aspects: 1. Fluency in Spanish. 2. Familiarity and efforts to learn another. – Sankarane Jun 17 '15 at 22:34
  • Now you've added a good reason for your choice. The parallelism still applies, though; I'd go with a,b,c rather than a; b,c (without other context). As regards the I-deletions – perhaps very slightly preferable (but this is a formal register). – Edwin Ashworth Jun 17 '15 at 22:56
  • It's for the very same reason that I prefer breaking the sentence down. "I am fluent in Spanish. I have a working knowledge of French, and (I) am currently teaching myself Arabic." would sound better, I believe. Thanks for your feedback :-) – Sankarane Jun 18 '15 at 1:27
  • While your way is certainly not in any way wrong, has merit and is fine for you to choose, and while I'd choose it myself in some follow-on contexts, it may be instructive to note the numbers of votes given for the choices. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 18 '15 at 8:25

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