0

I've seen semicolons used to separate independent clauses, but is it correct to use them with an independent clause, a conjunction, and a dependent clause?

<independent clause 1>; but <dependent clause 2>

For example, consider this sentence:

The product permits a dual use that provides all of the standard benefits of a typical standing mat; but also provides a more sports oriented mat in the same product.

Or since it is dependent, must it be a comma?

The product permits a dual use that provides all of the standard benefits of a typical standing mat, but also provides a more sports oriented mat in the same product.

  • I can't understand either sentences. I don't understand how you are using "but." It's like you're saying but also provides something, as if it were a subject. – michael_timofeev Oct 31 '15 at 16:37
  • The product permits a dual use: it provides all of the standard benefits of a typical standing mat; it also doubles as a more sports oriented mat. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 31 '15 at 16:42
  • @EdwinAshworth is that what he means? – michael_timofeev Oct 31 '15 at 16:53
  • "Not only does the product provide all of the standard benefits, but it also doubles as a sports-oriented mat." – michael_timofeev Oct 31 '15 at 16:55
  • "The product provides the benefits of both a typical standing mat and a sports-oriented mat." (whatever the hell we're talking about) – user139454 Oct 31 '15 at 17:12
2

A semicolon is incorrect in this sentence, and it should in fact be a comma.

However, strictly speaking this sentence does not include a dependent clause, because there is no subject in the phrase after the word but. To illustrate this, let's remove some of the excess verbiage:

The product permits a use, but also provides a mat.

(Eliminating the modifiers and streamlining it in this way also helps to illustrate why the comments on the original question pointed out that it's hard to interpret. The product "provides" a mat, which doesn't make much sense. But that doesn't change the discussion as to what is grammatically correct.)

So as you can see, there is one subject (product), and two verb phrases (permits a use / also provides a mat), and the two VPs are joined by the coordinating conjunction but.

Now, since you asked about dependent clauses: in general you would not expect to join dependent clauses to independent clauses with semicolons, either. For example (dependent clauses italicized):

Although I play soccer, I prefer watching football.

I enjoy watching TV while I eat.

Finally, it's worth noting that the construction [clause], (coordinating conjunction) [clause] is used to join two independent clauses, since each one (minus the coordinating conjunction) can stand on its own. For example (clauses separated in brackets):

[I like chocolate], and [I love candy].

[You read a book], but [you didn't enjoy it].

Note the use of a comma in each situation. You could alternatively use a semicolon, but without the conjunction:

[I like chocolate]; [I love candy].

[You read a book]; [you didn't enjoy it].

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.