Inclusion of a conjunction in a list started after a colon & Usage of semicolons vs commas for lists


Here is the sentence in question:

"Les Misérables includes several themes pertaining to ethics, such as: the value of atonement and forgiveness; the capacity of man to change himself; the failure of violence as a means to an end; and the benefits self-sacrifice and altruism."


My questions are two parts.

Firstly, should my list of noun-phrases be separated by semicolons or commas? I believe that since the list begins with a colon, the segmensts of the list must be separated by semicolons, but I am not sure.

Secondly, since the list begins with a colon--regaurdless of whether or not the segments of the list are separated by commas or semicolons--should my last semicolon be followed by a conjunction? The sentence has a better flowing sound when it designates the conclusion of the list with a conjunction; nevertheless, I can not fight the feeling that I remember a rule that dictates lists that beginning with colons should not have conjunctions between the last and second-to-last segments of the list.

1 answer


Your sentence is perfect as it stands. However, I wonder if a word is left out in the last part of the sentence. Where it says "and the benefits self-sacrifice and altruism" I believe it should say "and the benefits of self-sacrifice and altruism." Simply put, I think that you accidentally left out the word 'of' in the sentence. Other than that, you won't need to change a thing!


Good luck!



link comment answered Jan 14 '14 at 21:01 Karen OKeefe Contributor

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