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The first essentials of good writing then are ; accurate and clear thinking in words – words which are the writer’s stock- in- trade.

Should a colon or a semi-colon be used after are?

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  • You mention essentials and then only say /accurate and clear thinking/. Somewhere in there, I would use the word express. – Lambie Nov 8 '16 at 17:01
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You only use a semicolon to connect two independent clauses or in a complex list, though I wouldn't recommend you use a colon, because a colon introduces a list. Your sentence will do without a colon.

"The first essentials of good writing then are accurate and clear thinking in words – words which are the writer’s stock-in-trade."

Also, the hyphens in "stock-in-trade" need to be connected.

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