SAT Writing : Identifying Colon Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store varsity tutors amazon store varsity tutors ibooks store

Example Questions

← Previous 1 3

Example Question #1 : Identifying Colon Errors

Select the underlined word or words that need to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences may not contain an error.

If you want to succeed in Dr. Henderson’s course, you need to do three things; complete your homework promptly, participate in class discussions, and read the textbook thoroughly. No error.

Possible Answers:

course,

Dr. Henderson's

, and

things;

No error.

Correct answer:

things;

Explanation:

Because “If you want to succeed in Dr. Henderson’s course, you need to do three things” is an independent clause (a complete sentence that stands on its own), the list that follows it must be preceded by a colon. (Semicolons are used to separate two independent clauses, not an independent clause and a list.) In this sentence, the commas are all used correctly.

Example Question #2 : Identifying Colon Errors

Select the underlined word or words that need to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences may not contain an error.

Given the choice, which would you rather do: have your mother cut your hair or go to a salon? No error.

Possible Answers:

No error.

salon?

choice,

do:

Given

Correct answer:

do:

Explanation:

Because “have your mother cut your hair or go to a salon” isn’t a list of three or more items, no colon is necessary to introduce it. To correctly punctuate the sentence, you would instead use a comma between “do” and “have.” The question mark and other comma are correctly placed in the sentence.

Example Question #3 : Identifying Colon Errors

Select the underlined word or words that need to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences may not contain an error.

I have no idea if she’s coming to the dance marathon on Thursday: last week she sprained her ankle at a ballroom competition, and she may be recovering still. No error.

Possible Answers:

if she's

No error.

competition,

Thursday:

may be

Correct answer:

Thursday:

Explanation:

Because the first sentence isn’t really introducing the second sentence but is rather a separate thought, a colon isn’t the correct punctuation mark. Instead, a semicolon should be used to separate these two independent clauses.

Example Question #4 : Identifying Colon Errors

Select the underlined word or words that need to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences may not contain an error.

The way I see it, the animal shelter has three options: ask the city for more money, host a fundraiser, or employ more volunteer workers. No error.

Possible Answers:

it,

No error.

money,

options:

fundraiser,

Correct answer:

No error.

Explanation:

This sentence has no error. The part of the sentence preceding the list is an independent clause (a complete sentence that can stand on its own), so the list is correctly introduced with a colon. Each item in the list is correctly separated with a comma, and the introductory clause (“The way I see it”) is correctly set off from the main clause (“the animal shelter has three options”) with another comma.

Example Question #1 : Identifying Colon Errors

Select the underlined word or words that need to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences may not contain an error.

It’s a pity you can’t come to the party, since we need so much help: decorating, setting up seating, and preparing food. No error.

Possible Answers:

No error.

party,

help:

decorating,

, and

Correct answer:

help:

Explanation:

Here, the colon is incorrectly splitting up a clause. You wouldn’t say “we need so much help: decorating.” Instead, you’d say “we need so much help decorating.” For the same reason, you also wouldn’t break up the longer sentence, even though it ends with a list. Elsewhere, the commas are correctly separating the items in the list and separating the main clause (“It’s a pity you can’t come to the party”) from the dependent clause (“since we need so much help decorating, setting up seating, and preparing food.”)

Example Question #2 : Identifying Colon Errors

Select the underlined word or words that need to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences may not contain an error.

I have no idea if she’d rather: have dinner at an elegant restaurant, go to a comedy club, or compete in a trivia challenge to celebrate our anniversary. No error.

Possible Answers:

, or

rather:

challenge to

she'd

No error.

Correct answer:

rather:

Explanation:

Because “I have no idea if she’d rather” isn’t an independent clause (a complete sentence that can stand on its own), the list that follows it should not be separated with a colon or with any other punctuation. You would only use a colon to introduce the list if the part of the sentence before the list was an independent clause. The correct sentence is as follows: "I have no idea if she’d rather have dinner at an elegant restaurant, go to a comedy club, or compete in a trivia challenge to celebrate our anniversary."

Example Question #7 : Identifying Colon Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Henry has faced significant personal losses this year: His grandmother died, his dog was hit by a car, and his identity was stolen by a Bulgarian hacker. No error

Possible Answers:

has faced

year:

died,

His

No error

Correct answer:

His

Explanation:

Here, the colon is the correct punctuation to separate the first part of the sentence (an independent clause) from the second part of the sentence (a three-item list); however, the "His" that immediately follows the colon should not be capitalized.

Example Question #58 : Identifying Punctuation Errors: Other Punctuation

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Leila was convinced that her new boyfriend was the man she would someday marry: however, when he showed up late for three dates in a row, she began to have second thoughts. No error

Possible Answers:

was convinced

in a row,

marry:

No error

however,

Correct answer:

marry:

Explanation:

A semicolon, not a colon, is needed to separate the two independent clauses in this sentence. Colons are only used to introduce lists, and the second part of the sentence is not a list; it’s a full sentence in its own right. Therefore, a semicolon is the correct punctuation mark to use between “marry” and “however.”

Example Question #3 : Identifying Colon Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

“I’ve never: seen such a beautiful night, had such a delicious dinner, or danced with such a graceful man,” Lily said. No error

Possible Answers:

never:

such a beautiful night,

dinner, or

No error.

man,"

Correct answer:

never:

Explanation:

Because “I’ve never” isn’t an independent clause (a complete sentence that can stand on its own), the list that follows it should not be separated with a colon or with any other punctuation. You would only use a colon to introduce a list if the part of the sentence before the list was an independent clause.

Example Question #9 : Identifying Colon Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

It’s been a long, hard winter: everyone in the Alaskan village just wants to see some green grass and feel the sun shining again. No error

Possible Answers:

shining

the Alaskan

No error

long,

winter:

Correct answer:

winter:

Explanation:

Since the first sentence isn’t introducing the second sentence but is rather a separate thought, a colon isn’t the correct punctuation mark to use. Instead, a semicolon should be used to separate these two independent clauses.

← Previous 1 3
Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors

Incompatible Browser

Please upgrade or download one of the following browsers to use Instant Tutoring: