I've decided to work my way through McDougal and Littell's "Grammar and Usage" book to refresh my memory regarding grammar rules. My copy is an old one, and grammar rules shift. Hence this question: must conjunctive adverbs always be preceded by a semicolon and followed by a comma? I attribute me renewed interest in grammar to extrinsic, whose feedback is so structurally complex that it often leaves me dizzy. 😜
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Outstanding question for conjunctive adverbs' different applications and discretionary usages and attendant punctuation needs, as a model for discretionary distinctions. By and large, composition trends follow journalism styles, simplified, or "downstyled," grammar due to comprehension ease and space conservation principles: word compounds, punctuation, simplified diction and syntax, for instance. Strunk and White exhort sparse, if any, adverb usage altogether. "If any" in that case is a conjunctive adverb phrase, sentence middle position case.
When a punctuation mark may be warranted for clarity's sake, a newspaper city desk editor back in ye olden print times might excise it and as many more as practical or impractical in order to gain a few column inches per folio more space for advertisements. Due to prose writers often debuted their careers with short stories published in digests and journalism's connection to such publications -- excised punctuation became endemic. Same for academic journal punctuation, despite each discipline's style manual guidance that contradicts journalism's space-conscious sway.
Conjunctive adverbs take a semicolon before and a comma after when and only when used to join two closely related independent clauses. Descriptive grammar principles, as opposed to prescriptive rules, though, allow discretion, or creative license. Example, conjunctive adverb phrase "that is"; Might a comma, other mark, or none at all serve reading and comprehension ease more so; that is, does a conjunctive adverb use require a semicolon before and a comma after? "That is" is also "i.e.," from Latin "id est."
Conjunctive adverbs take a comma before and a comma after when used to join a dependent clause to an independent clause. How is one to know, that is, when punctuation is warranted if not by ear? Plus, a conjunctive adverb used as a sentence start adverb takes a comma after. "Plus" is a conjunctive adverb in that use. For example, "however" and "in fact," However, commas might, in fact, clutter the sentence.
The third conjunctive adverb option is when at a sentence end. Reading and comprehension ease rule first and foremost, however.
Three sentence positions where conjunctive adverbs might place, start, middle, and end, two options for sentence middles, these inform prescriptive punctuation use.
Descriptive grammar for creative writing, though, best practice is to avoid any connective tissue. Connective words tend to untimely tip the hand, so to speak, of surprise content to come, rather than the more desired connect present content to previous content. More often than not, though, connective expression is unnecessary, actually, usually superfluous air anyway. And is a substantive exception, as being largely invisible if used judiciously and timely, perhaps artfully and dramatically. Not to mention particles and judicious prepositions when essential for robust and dynamic voice expression.
Does a conjunctive adverb use require a semicolon before and a comma after? Instead of a semicolon or colon, might a comma, other mark, or none at all serve reading and comprehension ease more so? Not if independent clauses are recast for reading and comprehension ease's sake into separate sentences, especially run-ons. Best creative license practice is to save the grammatical acrobatics for dramatic effect. Noah Lukeman's A Dash of Style explicates dramatic punctuation effects.