Grammar - Semicolons and Hyphens

Especially when you are writing compound, complex sentences, you'll want to make sure that your ideas are clearly presented so that the reader of your GRE essay is not confused. To help you achieve this goal, using a semicolon might be very appropriate. Alternatively, you might want to break compound sentences into separate, smaller ones. Hyphens are still yet another grammatical construct that you might want to consider, but they are used much less frequently.

The Semicolon

Semicolon use is necessary when you are connecting independent clauses with a transitional word (a conjunctive adverb such as however, also, therefore, etc.). For example:

I hate to see my dog suffer; however, I didn’t force him to eat the entire loaf of bread.

A semicolon can also be used in between sentences that are not linked using a conjunction.

The boss demanded that I arrive at work on time; I had no other choice.

The Hyphen

Hyphens are most commonly used to attach prefixes to words. Self-, ex-, and pro, are some examples, but the exceptions to using hyphens with these words occurs as often as the rules. If you are not sure, you may want to rewrite words rather than potentially use an incorrectly hyphenated word. If the prefix is used before a proper noun, it will be hyphenated. For example:

Pro-American or Anti-Catholic

Also use hyphens between spelled out numbers, and as placement for a range of dates or page numbers.

Twenty-two, 1992-1994, pp. 199-207.