Contemporary essays, fiction, and opinion offered regularly by author Anne Brandt.

Question for the week
Is there anything wrong with the following phrase? "It cost less to reuse boxes than to buy new ones."
Rules of the Games
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Anne , from Virginia Beach, asks...
What is the correct punctuation one should use when using the proviso "provided however"? For example, if the sentence was "I will go to the mall; provided, however, I will be given money to spend," is the use of the semicolon and comma correct?
Anne answers...
If you wish to use the sentence you submitted, I would punctuate it like this:

"I will go to the mall, provided, however, I will be given money to spend. Provided is a conjunction linking the main thought to the subordinate one. A semicolon usually links thoughts of equal value, so the comma is better.

But let's look at the sentence further. Provided means "on the condition that." However means "on the other hand." Analytically speaking, these two words seem to cancel each other out. So ultimately, were I using this sentence, I would write or say "I will go to the mall, provided I will be given money to spend."
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