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I was always taught that when I have two independent clauses with the usage of because separating them, I should add a semicolon before because. Is this correct? Example sentences:

He dragged me into his office; because, he needed to tell me something important.

Another example:

The roads are wet this morning; because, it rained last night.

  • An easy way to think about it is the clause on either side of the semicolon should be a complete sentence on its own. The semicolon is only there to show the sentences are connected ideas (there are some exceptions like in lists, but I'm not informed enough to know). Since "because it rained last night" is a complete sentence on its own, this is gramatically correct. But I think the style is questionable – Zaya Aug 16 '18 at 18:07
  • @Zaya The case is that there are independent on both sides of the semicolon. But would it be grammatically incorrect to not have the semicolon before the word because? – Miket25 Aug 16 '18 at 18:12
  • Oh, I misread. Yes, the sentence "The roads are wet this morning because it rained last night" is arguably better than "The roads are wet this morning; because it rained last night" – Zaya Aug 16 '18 at 18:14
  • Those examples are incorrect, but there are times a semicolon can be used before because: "I will not pay list price; because I brought a coupon, I will pay half price." – jejorda2 Aug 16 '18 at 18:19
  • However, in @jojorda's example, the second independent thought is "Because I brought a coupon..." and it's linked to the first ("I will not pay list price") only by context. It's a more complex implementation of the rule in my answer. – Andrew Leach Aug 16 '18 at 18:25
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Neither of your examples contains two independent clauses. The parts starting because are dependent clauses [See k12reader.com].

Dependent clauses begin with words such as after, although, because, before, if, since, that, until, what, when, where, who, which, and why.

Thus "because he needed to tell me something" and "because it rained last night" are dependent, which means they do not stand alone and a semi-colon is inappropriate.

Perhaps a better way of saying it is that independent clauses contain complete thoughts which are linked only by context:

He dragged me into his office; he needed to tell me something important.
The roads are wet this morning; it rained last night.

Note that even with a conjunction like and, independent clauses need to be ordered correctly for cause and effect, which means that the clause starting with and is not independent either, and thus cannot have a semi-colon:

He needed to tell me something and he dragged me into his office.
It rained last night and the roads are wet this morning.

Where you do actually have two independent clauses, a semi-colon is a useful way of relating them together.

[As an aside, a conjunction like because should never be followed by a comma, because it is that which introduces the dependent clause and a comma divorces its clause before it's even started.]

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A semicolon in that position is very unusual and would seriously give the reader cause for pause, which may actually be exactly the writer's intent if it is being used as a creative literary device. But it is really non-standard and shouldn't be used for bureaucratic documents or the like. (And the construction 'semicolon-because-comma' is clearly wrong if you accept that anything can ever be 100% wrong.)

A semicolon can be seen as something between a colon and a full stop; the idea following the semi-colon is closely connected to the preceding idea, but at the same time it's an idea in its own right, so a comma may be too little. In fact in that last sentence a comma would be incorrect as there is no conjunction between the two main clauses.

But in your example there is another issue with the 'because' clause which is explained better than I can at the garden of phrases site. (My emphasis)

When an adverbial clause comes later on in the sentence [...] the writer must determine if the clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence or not. A "because clause" can be particularly troublesome in this regard. In most sentences, a "because clause" is essential to the meaning of the sentence, and it will not be set off with a comma:

 The Okies had to leave their farms in the midwest because the drought
 conditions had ruined their farms.

This is the case with your sentence, so no comma -- and definitely no semi-colon -- is grammatically the best option.

For the sake of completeness, I'll add the remainder of the quote. It's about cases where the adverbial clause actually requires a comma.

Sometimes, though, the "because clause" must be set off with a comma to avoid misreading:

  I knew that President Nixon would resign that morning, because 
  my sister-in-law worked in the White House and she called me with the
  news.

Without that comma, the sentence says that Nixon's resignation was the fault of my sister-in-law. Nixon did not resign because my sister-in-law worked in the White House, so we set off that clause to make the meaning clearly parenthetical.


Along this vein, in a tampered version of your second example there could be two separate meanings depending upon whether you use the comma or not.

He didn't drag me into his office because he needed to tell me something everyone should hear. (No! He dragged me into his office because he wanted to tell me something in private.)

He didn't drag me into his office, because he needed to tell me something everyone should hear. (He didn't drag me into his office. He publicly announced e.g. that the company was being taken over.)

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