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I have two sentences: one ending with free modifiers, and one beginning with a conjunction. But I want them to be one sentences. Can I use a semicolon or a colon? It seems that if I put a comma there, it would seem awkward because the conjunction would follow the two free modifiers, and it would the syntax would not be clear.

This is the sentence:

Having in times past debated with you over many issues, I could not well contend for my own views, being too nervous to express myself perfectly, too nervous because of you. But now having nothing to make me nervous, I have set down this letter, defending those views which I could not before."

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    Show us your sentences. Jun 20, 2017 at 22:49
  • "Having in times past debated with you over many issues, I could not well contend for my own views, being too nervous to express myself perfectly, too nervous because of you. But now having nothing to make me nervous, I have set down this letter, defending those views which I could not before."
    – g.arbia777
    Jun 20, 2017 at 23:02
  • There's nothing to forbid replacing that full stop with a semicolon; a colon would be out of place, since it implies an amplification of the previous sentence rather than a contrast with it. Jun 20, 2017 at 23:10
  • It is touching as it is. A little formal, but perhaps that is your nature and so it represents your true feelings. Jun 21, 2017 at 0:27
  • One thing I want to note is that there should be a comma after "now", i.e. "But now, having nothing to make me nervous, I have set down...". As for your concern, there's actually nothing wrong with using conjunctions to start a sentence mid-paragraph (in fact, doing so, as you have, can affect how the sentence is read and cause a greater emotional response). Jun 21, 2017 at 0:57

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A semicolon would probably be the best choice here:

Having in times past debated with you over many issues, I could not well contend for my own views, being too nervous to express myself perfectly, too nervous because of you; but now having nothing to make me nervous, I have set down this letter, defending those views which I could not before.

The semicolon not only establishes a sense of contrast, but it also takes care of those internal commas, which can have a habit of confusing the reader.

A colon isn't recommended in this case since, when one is placed, it implies that what follows is an explanation or expansion of the former clause. That doesn't fit too well in this situation.

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