Is this correct use of a semicolon? The clauses do seem to stand on their own but are related, so I would say "yes", but something about the sentence seems off about it to me. Does something about "in this way" invalidate the semicolon?

In such cases, it is possible to use "groups" so that the engine can be shared with other copies of the application; in this way, the engine can be in use at all times.

  • 1
    'In this way' is a sentence connector {as stated in this article at sana.aalto} (though I'd not recommend the whole article as useful). It may be used to start a second sentence here. Or, as '[t]he clauses do seem to stand on their own but are related', to start a second main clause following a semicolon. Apr 19 '17 at 21:45

Typically the semicolon is used to separate two independent clauses without the use of a conjunction. That much you probably know. In my experience (and this is strictly my opinion, but one couched in years of professional writing), the semicolon serves as a temporal marker — a pause more significant than a comma but not as pronounced as a period. I tend to view it like a fermata in musical notation — it serves a purpose in expressing the rhythm of the sentence as it is to be spoken. It is, to me, an almost purely stylistic marker.

And by the way, you should always read your writing out loud. Doing so can reveal all sorts of poor constructions.

That said, the phrase "in this way" does not invalidate the semicolon in any technical sense. Would I use a semicolon there? No, I wouldn't. But only because to me it feels like there is a full stop between the two clauses. They are related by virtue of being in the same paragraph; they don't need any further help connecting.

  • If you can add a source to this, it would be helpful; ELU likes documentation.
    – Xanne
    Apr 20 '17 at 3:59

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.