I suspect that the semicolon in this sentence below seems wrong, because only two independent clauses can be stringed together by a semicolon. Adverbial phrases are not independent clauses.

You likely want to test your edits in the browser regularly; likely with every save.

Perhaps it's a typo, and the author just intended to add a comma rather than a semicolon to improve the intonation?

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    I am inclined to agree. many people use a semicolon as a kind of supercharged comma, as here. Mar 21 at 4:49
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    @MichaelHarvey That would seem to be a complete referenced answer (hint)
    – James K
    Mar 21 at 6:16
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    Those occurrences of 'likely' are clumsy. I would prefer to replace the first with 'probably' and the second with 'ideally'. This poor style suggests an uneducated or lazy writer, or one more skilled in web design than English. Mar 21 at 6:29
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    The sentence is very poor.
    – Lambie
    Mar 21 at 14:00
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    Note, I have seen semicolons recommended as a "supercharged comma" in a serial construction that is very long with complex phrases, like "The 18th century saw many fundamental changes in society: the rise of a stable, economically powerful middle class; the transfer of power from a consolidated monarchical seat to a more hierarchical regional system; and an emerging awareness across all strata of society of the so-called "rights of man," guaranteeing agency even to the lowest members." But I'd argue that sentences like these would be better broken up anyway. Mar 21 at 16:24

1 Answer 1


You are correct in your belief that a semicolon is used in error in this sentence:

You likely want to test your edits in the browser regularly; likely with every save.

Better punctuation would be a colon (:) which serves to explain or elaborate upon what precedes it.

The colon is used to indicate that what follows it is an explanation or elaboration of what precedes it. That is, having introduced some topic in more general terms, you can use a colon and go on to explain that same topic in more specific terms. Schematically:

More general: more specific

A colon is nearly always preceded by a complete sentence; what follows the colon may or may not be a complete sentence, and it may be a mere list or even a single word. A colon is not normally followed by a capital letter in British usage, though American usage often prefers to use a capital.

The Colon (University of Sussex)

The semicolon (;) has only one major use. It is used to join two complete sentences into a single written sentence when all of the following conditions are met:

(1) The two sentences are felt to be too closely related to be separated by a full stop;
(2) There is no connecting word which would require a comma, such as and or but;
(3) The special conditions requiring a colon are absent.

[...] observe carefully: the semicolon must be both preceded by a complete sentence and followed by a complete sentence. Do not use the semicolon otherwise:

The Semicolon (University of Sussex)

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