GMAT Verbal : Correcting Colon Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GMAT Verbal

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Example Questions

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Example Question #66 : Correcting Punctuation Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Among the many odd experiments being demonstrated at the exhibition were: a waterless dishwasher, an electric personal helicopter, and a solar-powered machine gun.

Possible Answers:

demonstrated at the exhibition were, a

demonstrated at the exhibition were a

demonstrated at the exhibition were: a

demonstrated at the exhibition were; a

demonstrated at the exhibition were—a

Correct answer:

demonstrated at the exhibition were a

Explanation:

The colon in this sentence is used incorrectly, as it divides a sentence that should be uninterrupted. While colons are used to introduce lists, they are used to introduce lists after independent clauses, and "Among the many odd experiments being demonstrated at the exhibition were" is not an independent clause. The correct punctuation mark for the underlined portion of this sentence is no punctuation mark. As the only answer choice that removes, rather than replaces, the colon, "demonstrated at the exhibition were a" is the correct answer choice.

Example Question #67 : Correcting Punctuation Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

You may be required to produce the following items; Photo identification, proof of insurance, and proof of ownership.

Possible Answers:

the following items: photo identification, proof of insurance, and proof of ownership.

the following items; photo identification, proof of insurance, and proof of ownership.

the following items: photo identification: proof of insurance: and proof of ownership.

the following items: photo identification and proof of insurance and proof of ownership.

the following items. Photo identification, proof of insurance, and proof of ownership.

Correct answer:

the following items: photo identification, proof of insurance, and proof of ownership.

Explanation:

A colon is used to introduce a series of items in a list, or when a second independent clause is necessary to explain a preceding clause. Semicolons are used to join two independent clauses into one compound sentence, and should not be used interchangeably with colons. It is is incorrect to capitalize the first item in a list after a colon.

Example Question #68 : Correcting Punctuation Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

The novel was immensely confusing to most readers, featuring such complexities as: characters with multiple names, expansive time jumps, and a non-linear story structure.

Possible Answers:

such complexities as, characters with multiple names, expansive time jumps, and a non-linear story structure.

such complexities as characters with multiple names, expansive time jumps, and a non-linear story structure.

such complexities as: characters with multiple names, expansive time jumps and a non-linear story structure.

such complexities as: characters with multiple names; expansive time jumps; and a non-linear story structure.

such complexities as: characters with multiple names, expansive time jumps, and a non-linear story structure.

Correct answer:

such complexities as characters with multiple names, expansive time jumps, and a non-linear story structure.

Explanation:

The colon placed in the middle of the underlined portion of this sentence is incorrect and unnecessary. The sentence actually needs no punctuation in this location in the sentence, and the colon should be removed. This is because colons should only introduce lists that follow independent clauses, and "The novel was immensely confusing to most readers, featuring such complexities as" is not an independent clause (a sentence that can stand on its own). As the only answer choice that makes this change, the correct answer choice is "such complexities as characters with multiple names, expansive time jumps, and a non-linear story structure."

Example Question #1 : Correcting Colon Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

First, we were faced with one major issue. Fixing the leak before the boat sank.

Possible Answers:

with one major issue: Fixing the leak before the boat sank.

with one major issue, fixing: the leak before the boat sank.

with one major issue; fixing the leak before the boat sank.

with: one major issue, fixing the leak before the boat sank.

with one major issue: fixing the leak before the boat sank.

Correct answer:

with one major issue: fixing the leak before the boat sank.

Explanation:

The example sentence requires a colon rather than a period to be correct. Colons are used to introduce, in general, lists and quotations. They must be preceded by an independent clause, but are often used to introduce sentence fragments or dependent clauses. In this case, "fixing the leak before the boat sank" cannot be preceded by either a period or semicolon because it is not a grammatically complete independent clause. Note that there is no need to capitalize the first word after a colon, unless that word is a proper noun (since proper nouns are always capitalized). The correct version of the sentence reads, "We were faced with one major issue: fixing the leak before the boat sank."

Example Question #2 : Correcting Colon Errors

William of Ockham was a truly original figure: among his more notable contributions to the arts and sciences are radical nominalism, paraconsistant logic, and the well-known principle that bears his name: Ockham's Razor.

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Possible Answers:

figure: among his more notable contributions to the arts and sciences are radical nominalism, paraconsistant logic, and the well-known principle that bears his name: Ockham's Razor.

figure; among his more notable contributions to the arts and sciences are radical nominalism, paraconsistant logic, and the well-known principle that bears his name; Ockham's Razor.

figure: among his more notable contributions to the arts and sciences are radical nominalism, paraconsistant logic, and the well-known principle that bears his name; Ockham's Razor.

figure; among his more notable contributions to the arts and sciences are radical nominalism, paraconsistant logic, and the well-known principle that bears his name: Ockham's Razor.

figure; among his more notable contributions to the arts and sciences are: radical nominalism, paraconsistant logic, and the well-known principle that bears his name: Ockham's Razor.

Correct answer:

figure; among his more notable contributions to the arts and sciences are radical nominalism, paraconsistant logic, and the well-known principle that bears his name: Ockham's Razor.

Explanation:

A semicolon or a comma followed by a conjunction, not a colon, should be used to join the two independent clauses. Colons should follow independent clauses when introducing lists. A colon may be used to introduce an interrupting phrase at the end of a sentence that renames a thing or idea, in this case the "principle."

Example Question #3 : Correcting Colon Errors

The political crises that most significantly influenced legal thought in the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries were: the Second Council of Lyon; the issuing of the papal bull Unum Sanctum; the Avignon Papacy and the "Babylonian Captivity;" and the Western Schism.

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Possible Answers:

were: the Second Council of Lyon; the issuing of the papal bull Unum Sanctum; the Avignon Papacy and the "Babylonian Captivity;" and the Western Schism.

were the Second Council of Lyon; the issuing of the papal bull Unum Sanctum; the Avignon Papacy and the "Babylonian Captivity"; and the Western Schism.

were: the Second Council of Lyon, the issuing of the papal bull Unum Sanctum, the Avignon Papacy and the "Babylonian Captivity," and the Western Schism.

were the Second Council of Lyon, the issuing of the papal bull Unum Sanctum, the Avignon Papacy and the "Babylonian Captivity" and the Western Schism.

were the Second Council of Lyon: the issuing of the papal bull Unum Sanctum: the Avignon Papacy and the "Babylonian Captivity": and the Western Schism.

Correct answer:

were the Second Council of Lyon; the issuing of the papal bull Unum Sanctum; the Avignon Papacy and the "Babylonian Captivity"; and the Western Schism.

Explanation:

An explanation of a list after a colon needs to be introduced by an explanation of what that list is before the colon, and colons should follow independent clauses when introducing lists. In this case, semicolons ought to be used to separate the individual items in the list; colons are never used for this purpose.

Example Question #4 : Correcting Colon Errors

The menu includes: french fries, milkshakes, and hamburgers. 

Which option best replaces the underlined part of the sentence?

Possible Answers:

The menu includes, french fries, milkshakes, and hamburgers. 

The menu includes french fries milkshakes, and hamburgers. 

The menu: includes french fries, milkshakes, and hamburgers. 

The menu includes: french fries; milkshakes; and hamburgers. 

The menu includes the following items: french fries; milkshakes; and hamburgers. 

Correct answer:

The menu includes the following items: french fries; milkshakes; and hamburgers. 

Explanation:

A colon can only follow a grammatically complete, independently valid sentence. The only option that meets this requirement is "The menu includes the following items . . ."

Example Question #112 : Correcting Grammatical Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

The plan sought improvements to the city government in three areas municipal finances, emergency services, and traffic enforcement.

Possible Answers:

in three areas; municipal finances, emergency services, and traffic enforcement.

in three areas, municipal finances emergency services and traffic enforcement.

in three areas municipal finances, emergency services, and enforcing traffic.

in three areas: municipal finances, emergency services, and traffic enforcement.

in three areas municipal finances, emergency services, and traffic enforcement.

Correct answer:

in three areas: municipal finances, emergency services, and traffic enforcement.

Explanation:

The sentence is structured so that the list is given as the examples of the "three areas" the sentence mentions. When a list follows a phrase that can be a complete sentence and adds new information to the sentence, a colon should precede the list. Therefore, the correct answer choice is "in three areas: municipal finances, emergency services, and traffic enforcement."

Example Question #86 : Punctuation Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English.

Upon entering the room, you will have two choices either drink from the chalice or drinking from the mug.

Possible Answers:

Upon entering the room, you will have two choices; drinking from the chalice or drink from the mug.

Upon entering the room, you will have two choices either drink from the chalice or drinking from the mug.

Either drink from the chalice or drinking from the mug, upon entering the room, you will have two choices.

Upon entering the room, you will have two choices: either drink from the chalice or drink from the mug.

Upon entering the room, you will have too choices, either drink from the chalice or drink from the mug.

Correct answer:

Upon entering the room, you will have two choices: either drink from the chalice or drink from the mug.

Explanation:

A colon can be used to separate these two clauses. A semi-colon cannot be used, because the second clause cannot stand independently as a full sentence. Both of the verbs used need to be conjugated in the same way. The only answer choice that corrects both of these issues is, "Upon entering the room, you will have two choices: either drink from the chalice or drink from the mug."

Example Question #5 : Correcting Colon Errors

Replace the underlined portion with the answer choice that results in a sentence that is clear, precise, and meets the requirements of standard written English. One of the answer choices repeats the underlined portion as it is written.

The nineteenth-century athlete, C. W. Alcock, was a foundational figure for two separate sports soccer and cricket.

Possible Answers:

two separate sports soccer, and cricket.

two separate sports: soccer and cricket.

two separate sports soccer and cricket.

soccer and cricket: two separate sports.

two separate sports, soccer, cricket.

Correct answer:

two separate sports: soccer and cricket.

Explanation:

The underlined portion includes both a descriptive phrase, "two separate sports," and what it describes, "soccer and cricket." These two phrases need to be separated in a grammatically correct fashion. "Two separate sports: soccer and cricket," is the only answer choice that appropriately separates them,

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