SAT Writing : Correcting Semicolon Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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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 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 #58 : 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.

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

Possible Answers:

Drawing the opposing team into an attacking formation; the coach feels 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.

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.

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."

Example Question #59 : 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.

I talked to Jenny this morning; who said that it was too cold to go swimming.

Possible Answers:

morning; who

morning—who

morning. Who

morning, who

morning: who

Correct answer:

morning, who

Explanation:

A comma should separate the two clauses of the sentence; the second clause is a dependent clause, and cannot stand alone as its own sentence.

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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Because my aunt lives far away; I do not see her very often.

Possible Answers:

Because my aunt lives far away; I do not see her very often.

Because my aunt lives far away, I do not see her very often.

Because my aunt lives farthest away; I do not see her very often.

Because my aunt lives far away. I do not see her very often.

Although my aunt lives far away; I do not see her very often.

Correct answer:

Because my aunt lives far away, I do not see her very often.

Explanation:

The two clauses need to be separated by a comma.

Example Question #5 : Correcting Punctuation Errors: Other Punctuation

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.

There are three colors in a typical traffic light; red, green, and yellow.

Possible Answers:

traffic light. Red, green, and yellow.

traffic light: red, green, and yellow.

traffic light, those being red, green, and yellow.

traffic light: red and green and yellow.

traffic light, red, green, and yellow.

Correct answer:

traffic light: red, green, and yellow.

Explanation:

A semicolon should only ever be used to seperate two parts of a sentence that could each stand as independent clauses on their own. If you can't take the two parts of the sentence on either side of the semicolon and make them into their own sentences, then you should use something different. In this case, "red, green, and yellow" does not make sense as a sentence on its own, so a semicolon should not be used. A colon makes more sense because a list is being introduced, and colons are often used to introduce lists.

Example Question #2 : Improving Sentences

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 new plan had made a small difference; reducing costs and expenditures somehat over the last year.

Possible Answers:

The new plan had made a small difference; reduce costs and expenditures somehat over the last year.

The new plan had made a small difference; reducing costs and expenditures somehat over the last year.

The new plan had made a small difference, reducing costs and expenditures somehat over the last year.

The new plan made a small difference; for reducing costs and expenditures somehat over the last year.

The new plan had made a small difference reducing costs and expenditures somehat over the last year.

Correct answer:

The new plan had made a small difference, reducing costs and expenditures somehat over the last year.

Explanation:

The use of the semicolon in the sentence is incorrect, as a semicolon needs to separate two independent clauses in a compound sentences, instead of separating a dependent clause from the main part of the sentence it is reliant on. The sentence needs to feature a comma separating the two parts, making the correct answer "The new plan had made a small difference, reducing costs and expenditures somehat over the last year."

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. One of the answer choices reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

The scientist conducted her experiment in the tropical forest; instead of in the desert where the lizard population was flourishing.

Possible Answers:

forest; instead

desert where

No error

was flourishing

the lizard population

Correct answer:

forest; instead

Explanation:

A semi-colon, or a colon, is used to connect two complete sentences: here the second sentence is a fragment.

Example Question #62 : 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.

Leading the Transcendentalist movement, Ralph Waldo Emerson championed individualism; and spoke against slavery.

Possible Answers:

Leading the Transcendentalist movement; Ralph Waldo Emerson championed individualism, and spoke against slavery.  

Leading the Transcendentalist movement, Ralph Waldo Emerson championed individualism, and spoke against slavery.  

Leading the Transcendentalist movement, Ralph Waldo Emerson championed individualism; and spoke against slavery.

Leading the Transcendentalist movement; Ralph Waldo Emerson championed individualism and spoke against slavery.  

Leading the Transcendentalist movement, Ralph Waldo Emerson championed individualism and spoke against slavery.  

Correct answer:

Leading the Transcendentalist movement, Ralph Waldo Emerson championed individualism and spoke against slavery.  

Explanation:

A semi-colon separates two independent clauses. No punctuation between "individualism" and "and" is necessary.  

Example Question #4 : Improving Sentences

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.

Pensions are a complicated financial problem for many municipalities; but many cities have made changes to their pension programs in recent years.

Possible Answers:

Pensions are a complicated financial problem for many municipalities but many cities have made changes to their pension programs in recent years.

Pensions are a complicated financial problem for many municipalities, but many cities have made changes to their pension programs in recent years.

Pensions are a complicated financial problem for many municipalities; but many cities have made changes to their pension programs in recent years.

Pensions are a complicated financial problem for many municipalities so many cities have made changes to their pension programs in recent years.

Pensions are a complicated financial problem for many municipalities; and many cities have made changes to their pension programs in recent years.

Correct answer:

Pensions are a complicated financial problem for many municipalities, but many cities have made changes to their pension programs in recent years.

Explanation:

The sentence as written as a complex sentence, and it joins its two parts with a semicolon and the conjunction "but;" however, a compound sentence needs to be joined either by just a semicolon or a conjunction and comma, but not a semicolon and a conjunctionl; therefore the correct answer choice is "Pensions are a complicated financial problem for many municipalities, but many cities have made changes to their pension programs in recent years."

Example Question #11 : Improving Sentences

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.

He worked at the factory for thirty years; but he never once got a promotion.

Possible Answers:

He worked at the factory for thirty years; and he never once got a promotion.

He worked at the factory for thirty years he never once got a promotion.

He worked at the factory for thirty years or he never once got a promotion.

He worked at the factory for thirty years; but he never once got a promotion.

He worked at the factory for thirty years, but he never once got a promotion.

Correct answer:

He worked at the factory for thirty years, but he never once got a promotion.

Explanation:

The sentence is written as a compound sentence, one that joins two independent clauses together to show their relationship. A compound sentence can only be joined by either a semicolon or a comma followed by a conjunction, but never a semicolon and a conjunction as in the sentence above. Therefore, the correct answer choice is "He worked at the factory for thirty years, but he never once got a promotion."

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