Compare And Contrast Math And English Essay latest 2023

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When Should I Use a Comma and When Should I Use a Semicolon?

“A comma? A semicolon? Aaargh!! I’ll just pick one…I think I have a 50% chance of getting it right.”

Does this sound like you? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s raise your average.

Did you know you can HEAR the Difference! ?

The first thing I like to talk about with commas versus semicolons is their *sound*. Commas are a pause with an invitation to continue, while semicolons are a period. You will be able to hear the difference. Read the following sentences aloud, paying attention to the his of the sentence where the punctuation mark appears:

  • [CORRECT] In high school, I was certain of my academic qualities; daughter and younger sister of doctors, I excelled in math and science and dreaded all the English classes I was forced to take.
  • [CORRECT] I’ve taken a wide variety of courses, from psychology and sociology to business and criminal justice, hoping to find something whether it’s a specific course or topic , which captured my interest. Dr Evil makes grammar mistakes
  • [CORRECT] Addison’s disease is a chronic adrenal insufficiency that leads to liver failure, kidney failure, effusions, and in some cases, death. I was determined that it wouldn’t kill my brother.

Can you hear how your inflection is going up with each comma, and down with each semicolon? The upward inflection of the comma makes us think there is something more to come. It’s almost a melody. The sound of a semicolon, on the other hand, is often the same sound that accompanies a period. It is more final with a downward inflection. If you didn’t understand the first time, go on and read the above sentences again, until you hear it.

Why is it useful to know what a punctuation mark sounds like? It allows you to read your sentence aloud and determine if you have chosen correctly. If you have a semicolon in your sentence but the inflection seems to rise, you know how to replace it with a comma. And vice versa.

Also, on a more basic level, if you find yourself pausing and inflecting up and you don’t have a comma at all, add one! Here is an example :

  • [INCORRECT] I have learned a lot about myself and my abilities throughout my career.

See how you want to pause and inflect up after “abilities” because of the comma after “myself”? Add a comma!

  • [CORRECT] I have learned a lot about myself and my abilities throughout my career.

Or just remove the comma after “myself” and the inflection changes:

  • [CORRECT] I learned a lot about myself and my abilities throughout my career.

Another example :

  • [INCORRECT] Although I’ve had many successful closes, there have always been a few that failed.

Why put a comma after “Although” when you wouldn’t pause here while speaking?

  • [CORRECT] Although I’ve had many successful closes, there have always been a few that failed.

How many sentences are there in this sentence?

Semicolons are the proper punctuation when you want to connect two strings of words that might make up complete sentences, but are so closely related that you want to fit them into the same sentence. The first and third examples illustrate this use. You can see that the following could all be sentences on their own:

  • In high school, I was certain of my academic qualities.
  • Daughter and younger sister of doctors, I excelled in mathematics and science.

When you put a comma between two sentences, it’s called a “comma splice” and it’s an incorrect way to use a comma! The following is an INCORRECT use of a comma:

  • [INCORRECT] In high school, I was confident in my academic credentials, excelling in math and science.

See how each of the two parts of the sentence can stand alone?

  • In high school, I was certain of my academic qualities.
  • I excelled in math and science.

You can fix a comma splice in one of three ways:

  1. Replace the comma with a period:
  • [CORRECT] In high school, I was certain of my academic qualities. I excelled in math and science.

2. Add a coordinating conjunction after the comma:

  • [CORRECT] In high school, I was confident in my academic qualities and excelled in math and science.

3. If the sentences are closely related, as they are here, replace the comma with a semicolon:

  • [CORRECT] In high school, I was certain of my academic qualities; I excelled in math and science.

Conversely, if you have two parts of your sentence that are NOT independent, it is INCORRECT to connect them with a semicolon. Here are two examples of INCORRECT use of a semicolon:

  • [INCORRECT] Finally, you can convert all those Facebook friends into something useful; spread the word about your skills, experience and what a great job you would make.

Can you see that while the first part of this sentence is a sentence (“Finally, you can convert all those friends on Facebook into something useful.”), the second part of the sentence is NOT a sentence ( “Spread the word about your skills, experience and what a great job you would make.”).

If you use your ear here, you WILL HEAR the difference. Read the sentences aloud and you will hear an upward inflection after the word “useful”. This upward inflection indicates what? You got it. A comma.

Here is the correctly punctuated sentence:

  • [CORRECT] Finally, you can convert all those Facebook friends into something useful, spreading the word about your skills, experience, and the job you would do.

Checklist:

Upward inflection = comma

Downward inflection = semicolon

Sentences stand alone = semicolon

Sentences are not sufficient on their own = comma

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