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I am a new to English grammar and was trying out the question:

During the English neoclassical period (1660–1789), many writers imitated the epic poetry and satires of ancient Greece and Rome. They were not the first in England to adopt the literary modes of classical _____ some of the most prominent figures of the earlier Renaissance period were also influenced by ancient Greek and Roman literature.

Where under the blank we have the following options:

A. antiquity, however
B. antiquity, however,
C. antiquity, however;
D. antiquity; however,

I selected option D because according to what I have read online if we have a supplementary adverb like however that separates two complete sentences then we need to have a semicolon and then a comma. But here they use a comma and then a semicolon.

What is the reasoning for this?

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The "however" is a part of the first clause, not the second. If this were split into two separate sentences, it would read like this:

They were not the first in England to adopt the literary modes of classical antiquity, however. Some of the most prominent figures of the earlier Renaissance period were also influenced by ancient Greek and Roman literature.

But I think you are imagining that the "however" belongs to the second clause, which would look like this (AND IS INCORRECT):

They were not the first in England to adopt the literary modes of classical antiquity. However, some of the most prominent figures of the earlier Renaissance period were also influenced by ancient Greek and Roman literature.

"However" is used to introduce contrast. Notice that the contrast is between the first sentence and the first part of the second, NOT the two parts of the second sentence.

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  • Yup. That's the key to dealing with semicolons. If it makes no sense to replace the semicolon by a full stop, you're probably using it wrongly. Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 20:18

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