Semi-colons: anaconda

2 - The Grammar Bit

The Grammar Bit!

Read the three sentences opposite. You’ll notice that each sentence consists of two main clauses. Remember – a main clause (sometimes called an independent clause) contains a subject and a verb and makes sense on its own.

You’ll also notice that the main clauses in each sentence have been separated by a semi-colon (;). A semi-colon is used when the statement made in the second clause is closely related to the first. Visualising a traffic light can help you understand the role of a semi-colon within a sentence.

full stop is a red light. This makes you stop completely.
comma is a green light. You look at it, but you don’t stop.
semi-colon is an amber light. It makes you stop, but not for long.

With your talk partner, discuss why you think a semi-colon has been used in each of the scintillating sentences opposite. How exactly are the main clauses related?

Scintillating Sentences

1) The enormous anaconda could move quickly through the water; it was much slower on land.

2) The tired monkey was supposed to be looking out for danger; falling asleep in this particular stretch of rainforest was most unwise.

3) Only the snake’s eyes, which were set high on its head, could be seen; the huge body was hidden beneath the surface of the silty river.

Here’s an absorbing fact!

Anacondas absorb the food they eat very slowly. After swallowing a large animal, they may not need to eat again for months.