SemicolonsDisplay All Answers
Q. My question is about the proper use of semicolons. My editor wants me to use the following construct when I use “that is” or “for example”: “You can tailor much of the desktop environment; for example, the background window.”
A. CMOS does not support such use of the semicolon; semicolons—when not separating items in a syntactically complex series—should separate independent clauses:Deep-dish pizza has anchored me to the Midwest; that is, I’m unwilling to give it up and too heavy to leave.When an expression like “that is” is used to introduce a dependent clause, use a dash (or two) or parentheses:Having only one thing in common—namely, a knowledge of English—we decided to call it off.Snow is great until you have to do something about it (e.g., rescue injured skiers).
Hair loss was not much of a problem outdoors in 1910—in other words, back when you were expected to wear a hat.
Is the use of semicolons in the following series warranted (i.e., when the commas appear in the last member of the series and there’s no real threat of misreading)? It just looks weird to me: They were hunter-gatherers who sustained themselves by hunting; fishing; and gathering roots, berries, and various wild plants. A. You are right! The semicolons are pointless and counterproductive. They should be changed to commas. « Close
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