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This question already has an answer here:

In the following sentence can the first comma be replaced with a semicolon for smoother reading?

"An hour drifted by, and the lady, whose name was Arcey Pierre, called it a day."

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, Bread, Nigel J, David, choster May 16 '18 at 23:07

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    If you want to replace ", and" with a semicolon, yes ("An hour drifted by; the lady, whose name...). Otherwise, no ("An hour drifted by; and the lady, whose name...). – AleksandrH Apr 29 '18 at 22:53
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    @AleksandrH, that sounds like an answer. Post it? – Mathieu K. Apr 30 '18 at 2:02
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    @MathieuK. Nah, it's fine. – AleksandrH Apr 30 '18 at 11:14
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    @EdwinAshworth: yeah, I thought that was weird. I assume the OP meant something along the lines of "was more and more inclined to call it a day" or "began to pack up her things". – Mathieu K. May 1 '18 at 4:01
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    Having reread the question, it seems off-topic: what is "smoother reading" is opinion-based. As for Grammar Monster's statement that the use of conjunctions immediately after a semicolon is "outdated", one asks "so what?" What was once in style becomes out-of-style, what was out-of-style becomes in style again... the author should choose his own punctuation usage based on his own sense of style. – AmE speaker May 1 '18 at 19:05
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I'm going another way on this one: put a period after "by" and drop the "and".

"An hour drifted by. The lady, whose name was Arcey Pierre, called it a day."

In fairness, whether you go with a period or a semicolon here will depend on the surrounding text. See AleksandrH's input for the way to use the semicolon.

  • This is possibly the better solution, but does not address OP's actual question. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 30 '18 at 20:20
  • @EdwinAshworth: true. Let me CW-post AleksandrH's answer, which is probably closest to the standard approach. – Mathieu K. May 1 '18 at 3:55
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AleksandrH said in the comments

If you want to replace ", and" with a semicolon, yes ("An hour drifted by; the lady, whose name...). Otherwise, no ("An hour drifted by; and the lady, whose name...).

As to the acceptability of the semicolon, GrammarMonster (often better than the name warrants) has:

When a conjunction (words like and, but and or) is used to merge two independent clauses into one sentence, it is possible to use a semicolon before the conjunction to outrank any commas in the clause. (This practice is acceptable, but it is considered outdated these days. However, if you think a semicolon makes your sentence clearer, you can use one.)

[emphasis partly EA]

The article also adds examples from respected sources, but not recent ones. The Rebecca West quotation is possibly the most recent, dating from 1937.

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Yes, you can. And there is no inherent reason you must, or have to, delete the and (coordinating conjunction) right after the semicolon any more than there is a rational rule that says you can't start a sentence with and.

So yes,

"An hour drifted by; and the lady, whose name was Arcey Pierre, called it a day.

is fine. See this highly upvoted answer (+14 and climbing) regarding the usage of the coordinating conjunction but right after a semicolon.

As for Grammar Monster's statement that the use of conjunctions immediately after a semicolon is "outdated", one asks "so what?" What was once "in style" becomes out-of-style; and what was out-of-style becomes in style again... the author should choose her/his own punctuation usage based on her/his own sense of style.

Having reread the question, I think it is off-topic'; for what is "smoother reading" is opinion-based.

  • I'd say 'When a conjunction (words like and, but and or) is used to merge two independent clauses into one sentence, it is possible to use a semicolon before the conjunction to outrank any commas in the clause. (This practice is acceptable, but it is considered outdated these days. However, if you think a semicolon makes your sentence clearer, you can use one.)' (even if from GrammarMonster) is a rational guideline. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 30 '18 at 20:17
  • Commas and semicolons aren't treated like various forms of parentheses in mathematics. One comma before the conjunction and two to frame a non-essential relative. Those are the relevant rules. In a short sentence like this, with no possibility of falsely parsing it, the semicolon is overkill. – KarlG May 1 '18 at 2:19

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