GMAT Verbal : Correcting Semicolon Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GMAT Verbal

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Correcting Semicolon 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 government found that recovering oil from its deep-water deposits was not economically viable and it decided to cancel the public procurement process.

Possible Answers:

was not economically viable, therefore, the government decided to cancel the public procurement process

was not economically viable, and they decided to cancel the public procurement process

was not economically viable; therefore the government decided to cancel the public procurement process

was not economically viable and it decided to cancel the public procurement process

was not economically viable; therefore, it decided to cancel the public procurement process

Correct answer:

was not economically viable; therefore, it decided to cancel the public procurement process

Explanation:

Use a semicolon before such words and terms as "namely," "however," "therefore," "that is," "i.e.," "for example," "e.g.," "for instance," etc., when they introduce a complete sentence. It is also preferable to use a comma after these words and terms.

Example Question #2 : Correcting Semicolon 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.

What makes habitus unique is that it is a movement beyond the natural order, while the other nine categories relate to things that can be by nature, habitus is metaphysically distinct because it implies a “second nature,” an addition through artifice to a being’s natural capacities or an artificial change to its natural inclinations.

Possible Answers:

it is a movement beyond the natural order; while the other nine categories relate to things that can be by nature; habitus is metaphysically distinct because it implies a “second nature;” an addition through artifice to a being’s natural capacities; or an artificial change to its natural inclinations.

it is a movement beyond the natural order: while the other nine categories relate to things that can be by nature, however habitus is metaphysically distinct because it implies a “second nature” and an addition through artifice to a being’s natural capacities or an artificial change to its natural inclinations.

it is a movement beyond the natural order while the other nine categories relate to things that can be by nature; habitus is metaphysically distinct because it implies a “second nature;” an addition through artifice to a being’s natural capacities or an artificial change to its natural inclinations.

it is a movement beyond the natural order; while the other nine categories relate to things that can be by nature, habitus is metaphysically distinct because it implies a “second nature,” an addition through artifice to a being’s natural capacities or an artificial change to its natural inclinations.

it is a movement beyond the natural order, while the other nine categories relate to things that can be by nature, habitus is metaphysically distinct because it implies a “second nature:” an addition through artifice to a being’s natural capacities or an artificial change to its natural inclinations.

Correct answer:

it is a movement beyond the natural order; while the other nine categories relate to things that can be by nature, habitus is metaphysically distinct because it implies a “second nature,” an addition through artifice to a being’s natural capacities or an artificial change to its natural inclinations.

Explanation:

Semicolons should be used when joining two conceptually linked independent clauses.

Example Question #3 : Correcting Semicolon 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.

For most long tenured professors, the change meant nothing, assistant professors, however, were now extremely concerned about the new rules for promotion.

Possible Answers:

the change meant nothing, assistant professors;

the change meant nothing, assistant professors,

the change meant nothing assistant professors,

the change meant nothing: assistant professors,

the change meant nothing; assistant professors,

Correct answer:

the change meant nothing; assistant professors,

Explanation:

The sentence is a compound sentence, meaning it is two complete thoughts that are joined together to show their relationship to each other. Any compound sentence must be linked either by a comma and a conjunction or a semicolon. Only one answer choice appropriately links the two parts of the sentence, "the change meant nothing; assistant professors," making it the correct answer.

Example Question #4 : Correcting Semicolon Errors

The magic duck went for a swim, the water was cold. 

Which option best replaces the underlined sentence?

Possible Answers:

The magic duck went; for a swim, the water was cold. 

The magic duck, went for a swim, the water was cold. 

The magic duck went for a swim...the water was cold. 

The magic duck went for a swim: the water was cold. 

The magic duck went for a swim; the water was cold. 

Correct answer:

The magic duck went for a swim; the water was cold. 

Explanation:

A comma can not be used to combine two separate thoughts. That creates a run on sentence. Instead, a semi-colon can be used. 

Example Question #5 : Correcting Semicolon Errors

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

According to the survey; business owners who employed more than one hundred workers were twice as likely to oppose unionization as were owners of smaller businesses.

Possible Answers:

The survey said:

According to the survey, 

According to the survey:

According to the survey.

As per the survey's findings, 

Correct answer:

According to the survey, 

Explanation:

The underlined section of the sample text featured a semicolon error, where a dependent clause ("according to the survey") was linked using a semicolon. The most precise and concise correction would have been to replace the semicolon with a comma. 

"According to the survey" is a dependent clause, so to punctuate it with a period would be as incorrect as to use a semicolon. 

"As per the survey's findings," would not be grammatically incorrect, but would be less clear and precise than simply replacing the semicolon with a comma. 

In order for a colon to be used, the second half of the sentence should either be a list or a quotation.

Example Question #6 : Correcting Semicolon 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.

Many athletes argue that the hardest thing to do in sports is hit a baseball, coaches often insist it is keeping the proper motivation up for a whole season.

Possible Answers:

hit a baseball; coaches often

hit a baseball coaches often

hit a baseball but coaches often

hit a baseball and coaches often

hit a baseball, coaches often

Correct answer:

hit a baseball; coaches often

Explanation:

The sentence is written as a compound sentence, one that joins two independent clauses into one sentence to show their relationship. Unlike the way the sentence is written, a compound sentence needs to join its two independent clauses together using either a semicolon or a comma followed by a conjunction. The only answer choice that fixes this issue, "hit a baseball; coaches often," does so by placing a semicolon between the two independent clauses.

Example Question #7 : Correcting Semicolon Errors

In many histories of the intellectual culture of the High Middle Ages, a few crucial debates and topic dominate: the so-called "medieval problem of universals," an epistemological debate distinct from the contemporary controversy that goes by the same name, the development of natural law theories in virtue ethics and politics, and the flourishing of logic spurred by advances in the increasingly complex systematic theology of the day.

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:

a few crucial debates and topic dominate; the so-called "Medieval problem of universals," an epistemological debate distinct from the contemporary controversy that goes by the same name, the development of natural law theories in virtue ethics and politics, and the flourishing of logic spurred by advances in the increasingly complex systematic theology of the day.

a few crucial debates and topic dominate: the so-called "Medieval problem of universals;" an epistemological debate distinct from the contemporary controversy that goes by the same name; the development of natural law theories in virtue ethics and politics; and the flourishing of logic spurred by advances in the increasingly complex systematic theology of the day.

a few crucial debates and topic dominate: the so-called "Medieval problem of universals," an epistemological debate distinct from the contemporary controversy that goes by the same name, the development of natural law theories in virtue ethics and politics, and the flourishing of logic spurred by advances in the increasingly complex systematic theology of the day.

a few crucial debates and topic dominate: the so-called "Medieval problem of universals," an epistemological debate distinct from the contemporary controversy that goes by the same name; the development of natural law theories in virtue ethics and politics; and the flourishing of logic spurred by advances in the increasingly complex systematic theology of the day.

a few crucial debates and topic dominate; the so-called "Medieval problem of universals;" an epistemological debate distinct from the contemporary controversy that goes by the same name; the development of natural law theories in virtue ethics and politics; and the flourishing of logic spurred by advances in the increasingly complex systematic theology of the day.

Correct answer:

a few crucial debates and topic dominate: the so-called "Medieval problem of universals," an epistemological debate distinct from the contemporary controversy that goes by the same name; the development of natural law theories in virtue ethics and politics; and the flourishing of logic spurred by advances in the increasingly complex systematic theology of the day.

Explanation:

The list at the end of the sentence, which tells the reader what the dominant debates and topics are, should be introduced by a colon. The individual items in the list should be separated by semicolons; however, since "medieval problem of universals" is the name for the debate described immediately following the phrase, a comma within the quotation marks is required rather than a semicolon; the semicolon implies that the two clauses are separate items in the list, rather than one item, whose name is given in one clause and whose description is given in the next one.

Example Question #8 : Correcting Semicolon Errors

It was once generally believed that the controversy over radical Averroism had died out in Paris by the time of Thomas's second residency, and, in many circles, this interpretation still dominates; however, more recent examination of the relationship between the writings of the Averroists and the Quodlibetal Questions of Aquinas suggest that Averroism still had at least a vocal foothold in Paris at that time.

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:

second residency, and, in many circles, this interpretation still dominates; however, more recent examination

second residency, and, in many circles, this interpretation still dominates, however, more recent examination

second residency, and, in many circles, this interpretation still dominates: however, more recent examination

second residency; and, in many circles, this interpretation still dominates; however, more recent examination

second residency; and, in many circles, this interpretation still dominates, however, more recent examination

Correct answer:

second residency, and, in many circles, this interpretation still dominates; however, more recent examination

Explanation:

In the sentence as it is written, the semicolon is used to join two thematically related independent clauses into a single sentence. Only one is needed—placed before the conjunction "however," which introduces the second independent clause. Multiple semicolons in a single sentence are generally rare in standard written English when joining independent clauses, and they are usually discouraged.

Example Question #1 : Correcting Semicolon 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 new style was loathsome to older designers; but they all knew the importance of the innovations made by younger stylists.

Possible Answers:

The new style was loathsome to older designers; but they all knew the importance of the innovations made by younger stylists.

The new style was loathsome to older designers so they all knew the importance of the innovations made by younger stylists.

The new style was loathsome to older designers, they all knew the importance of the innovations made by younger stylists.

The new style was loathsome to older designers, but they all knew the importance of the innovations made by younger stylists.

The new style was loathsome to older designers; and they all knew the importance of the innovations made by younger stylists.

Correct answer:

The new style was loathsome to older designers, but they all knew the importance of the innovations made by younger stylists.

Explanation:

A compound sentence, like the one written in this question, must have its two independent clauses joined by either a semicolon or a conjunction and a comma. Using a semicolon and a conjunction, like written in the sentence, is never correct, and the semicolon should be replaced by a  comma, as done in "The new style was loathsome to older designers, but they all knew the importance of the innovations from younder stylists."

Example Question #1 : Correcting Semicolon 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.

Drawing the opposing team into an attacking formation; the coach felt he knew exactly what he wanted to do.

Possible Answers:

Drawn the opposing team into an attacking formation; the coach felt he knew exactly what he wanted to do.

Drawing the opposing team into an attacking formation; the coach felt he knew exactly what he wanted to do.

Drawing the opposing team into an attacking formation; the coach felt he knew exactly what he wants to do.

Drawing the opposing team into an attacking formation, the coach felt he knew exactly what he wanted to do.

Drawing the opposing team into an attacking formation; the coach feels he knew exactly what he wanted to do.

Correct answer:

Drawing the opposing team into an attacking formation, the coach felt he knew exactly what he wanted to do.

Explanation:

Although the sentence is written as compound sentence joined by a semicolon, the first portion, "Drawing the opposing team into an attacking formation," is actually an introductory clause. As such, the clause should be set apart from the rest of the sentence by a comma. Therefore, the correct answer choice is "Drawing the opposing team into an attacking formation, the coach felt he knew exactly what he wanted to do."

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