Is the following use of a semi-colon correct?

I found examples of variability in temperature and in pressure; some strongly correlated.

I think that the words after the semi-colon have to be a sentence in their own right, but I'm not sure that these are.

  • What do you mean, you're not sure they are a sentence? Of course it is a sentence. There's a subject and a predicate. The predicate has been omitted, is all. We do that all the time in English. We do that all the time in all languages. – RegDwigнt Oct 23 '15 at 14:36
  • I would use a dash because "some strongly correlated" is further describing "examples." – michael_timofeev Oct 23 '15 at 15:25
  • It's fairly clear that the sentence means "I found examples (some strongly correlated) of variability." But the semicolon leads a reader to expect a second and independent sentence. There are instances where this works: "I found variability in temperature; he, variability in pressure." But not here in the OP. – deadrat Oct 24 '15 at 9:00

In general, you can combine two clauses that would otherwise be independent sentences by separating them with a semi-colon. This tends to tie them together more closely than two separate sentences. You do not use a conjunction.


Two sentences: "Bob entered the room. He sat down."

Combined with conjunction: "Bob entered the room and he sat down."

Combined with semicolon: "Bob entered the room; he sat down."

In your example, the second clause does not appear to be a complete sentence. "Correlated" can be a verb but I think it is being used as an adjective here. If the intent is that it is a verb, then the example is completely correct.

  • Thank you. You're right, I'm using "correlated" as an adjective here. To make it clear I am saying something like "some of them are strongly correlated". So it seems the semi-colon here is incorrect in my case. Would I just use a comma instead? I want to put a hyphen, but it feels informal. – user1551817 Oct 23 '15 at 14:26
  • Yes, if you're using it as an adjective, then don't use a semi-colon because the second clause could not stand as an independent sentence (nor satisfy one of the other conditions where a semi-colon is appropriate). You could simply change it to a comma. – Jay Oct 23 '15 at 18:57

You'd need a verb if you want to use a semicolon like this:

I found examples of variability in temperature and in pressure; some were strongly correlated.

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