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clause or phrase Options
D00M
Posted: Wednesday, March 7, 2018 9:52:01 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/24/2017
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Hello respected teachers,

It was a big vehicle and a deceptively steep slope. The headlights shone into timbers, into trees that looked like ghosts; a flood of light diffused by fog and further diffused by the windscreen constantly misting over.

Is the underlined a clause or a phrase please? Why has the writer used ";" to introduce it? Wouldn't comma do it?

The custom of speaking is the original and only just standard of any language. Joseph Priestly- Rudiments of EG, 1761.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, March 7, 2018 10:26:23 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 30,670
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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hi again!

The second question is simpler to answer - the author used a semi-colon because he/she wanted to.
There ARE some rules concerning punctuation, but there are many more opinions, styles and advices.
Personally I would have used a dash - ". . . like ghosts - a flood of light . . .".
A comma does not seem quite strong enough - and would seem to be part of a pair of commas around the phrase "into trees that looked like ghosts", which is not really the case.

That long underlined bit is really (despite having three verbs) a phrase. It is acting as a noun (it could be replaced grammatically by something like "a pale glow" or the simple "a flood of light").

"The headlights shone into timbers, into trees that looked like ghosts - a pale glow."

It does not have a finite verb - "flood" is a noun in this sentence, "diffused" is a participle both times, and "misting" is a participle. It cannot be a clause. It is a phrase made up of two phrases - and the second phrase ("further diffused by the windscreen constantly misting over") contains a shorter participle phrase "the windscreen constantly misting over"

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
NKM
Posted: Wednesday, March 7, 2018 5:34:01 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/14/2015
Posts: 5,031
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Location: Corinth, New York, United States
The use of a semicolon would lead one to expect an ensuing clause, but (as DragO points out) what follows it has no finite verb and so is actually merely a phrase.

We could say that the punctuation "bends the rules"; sometimes we do just that, for the sake of style and/or clarity.

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