GMAT Verbal : Correcting Colon Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GMAT Verbal

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : 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 reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Some laud wind power as a clean, renewable energy source: others worry about the environmental effect of setting up rows of turbines, or “wind farms,” either offshore or on land.

Possible Answers:

Some laud it as a clean, renewable energy source others worry about the environmental effect of setting up rows of turbines, or “wind farms,” either offshore or on land. 

Some laud it as a clean, renewable energy source: others worry about the environmental effect of setting up rows of turbines, or “wind farms,” either offshore or on land. 

Some laud wind power as a clean, renewable energy source; others worry about the environmental effect of setting up rows of turbines, or “wind farms,” either offshore or on land.

Some laud it as a clean, renewable energy source: and others worry about the environmental effect of setting up rows of turbines, or “wind farms,” either offshore or on land. 

Some laud it as a clean, renewable energy source, others worry about the environmental effect of setting up rows of turbines, or “wind farms,” either offshore or on land. 

Correct answer:

Some laud wind power as a clean, renewable energy source; others worry about the environmental effect of setting up rows of turbines, or “wind farms,” either offshore or on land.

Explanation:

The sentence is incorrect as it is written because it is using a colon to combine two independent clauses into a compound sentence. When combining two independent clauses into a compound sentence, one should use either a semicolon or a comma followed by a conjunction. The only answer choice that employs one of these strategies is "Some laud wind power as a clean, renewable energy source; others worry about the environmental effect of setting up rows of turbines, or “wind farms,” either offshore or on land."

Example Question #12 : 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 reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

The bride divided her wedding binder into four sections, venue, catering, decorations, and dress.

Possible Answers:

four sections: venue; catering; decorations; and dress.

four sections; venue, catering, decorations, and dress.

four sections, venue, catering, decorations, and dress.

four sections; venue; catering; decorations; and dress.

four sections: venue, catering, decorations, and dress.

Correct answer:

four sections: venue, catering, decorations, and dress.

Explanation:

Because “The bride divided her wedding binder into four sections” is an independent clause (a complete sentence that stands on its own) and because it’s followed by a list, a colon is needed. If the independent clause were followed by another independent clause, a semicolon would be needed. If the beginning of the sentence wasn’t an independent clause, then a colon would not be necessary before the list. Semicolons are only used to separate items in a list if those items contain commas, and since that’s not the case here, we use commas to separate the items in this list.

Example Question #11 : 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 reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

I don’t know if I want: the chicken, beef, or vegetarian option for this party, what do you think?

Possible Answers:

I don’t know if I want: the chicken, beef, or vegetarian option for this party; what do you think?

I don’t know if I want the chicken, beef, or vegetarian option for this party; what do you think?

I don’t know if I want the chicken, beef, or vegetarian option for this party: what do you think?

I don’t know if I want the chicken, beef, or vegetarian option for this party, what do you think?

I don’t know if I want: the chicken, beef, or vegetarian option for this party, what do you think?

Correct answer:

I don’t know if I want the chicken, beef, or vegetarian option for this party; what do you think?

Explanation:

Only use a colon to enumerate items in a list if the part of the sentence preceding the list is an independent clause (one that could stand as a complete sentence on its own). Since “I don’t know if I want” isn’t an independent clause, no colon is needed before listing the meal choices. And, since “I don’t know if I want the chicken, beef, or vegetarian option for this party” and “what do you think?” are both independent clauses, they must be separated by a semicolon.

Example Question #14 : 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 reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

I don’t know what I want, a poodle, a cocker spaniel, or a German shepherd, my sister tells me that each breed has its merits.

Possible Answers:

I don’t know what I want; a poodle, a cocker spaniel, or a German shepherd; my sister tells me that each breed has its merits.

I don’t know what I want; a poodle, a cocker spaniel, or a German shepherd. My sister tells me that each breed has its merits.

I don’t know what I want, a poodle, a cocker spaniel, or a German shepherd, my sister tells me that each breed has its merits.

I don’t know what I want: a poodle, a cocker spaniel, or a German shepherd, my sister tells me that each breed has its merits.

I don’t know what I want: a poodle, a cocker spaniel, or a German shepherd. My sister tells me that each breed has its merits.

Correct answer:

I don’t know what I want: a poodle, a cocker spaniel, or a German shepherd. My sister tells me that each breed has its merits.

Explanation:

Only use a colon to enumerate items in a list if the part of the sentence preceding the list is an independent clause (one that could stand as a complete sentence on its own). Since “I don’t know what I want” is an independent clause, we must use a colon before listing the dog breeds. Because “I don’t know what I want: a poodle, a cocker spaniel, or a German shepherd” and “My sister tells me that each breed has its merits” are both independent clauses, they must be separated by a semicolon or broken into two complete sentences.

Example Question #15 : Correcting Colon Errors

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

Have you ever tried: pulpo, padron peppers, or paella? They’re all great examples of classic Spanish cuisine.

Possible Answers:

Have you ever tried pulpo, padron peppers, or paella? They’re all great examples of classic Spanish cuisine.

Have you ever tried pulpo, padron peppers, or paella; they’re all great examples of classic Spanish cuisine?

Have you ever tried: pulpo, padron peppers, or paella? They’re all great examples of classic Spanish cuisine.

Have you ever tried, pulpo, padron peppers, or paella? They’re all great examples of classic Spanish cuisine.

Have you ever tried pulpo, padron peppers, or paella, they’re all great examples of classic Spanish cuisine?

Correct answer:

Have you ever tried pulpo, padron peppers, or paella? They’re all great examples of classic Spanish cuisine.

Explanation:

Because “Have you ever tried” 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.

Example Question #16 : Correcting Colon Errors

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

While I’m away at the convention, I need you to do the following chores: mow the lawn and clean the gutters, which are clogged.

Possible Answers:

While I’m away at the convention, I need you to do the following chores: mow the lawn and clean the gutters, which are clogged.

While I’m away at the convention I need you to do the following chores: mow the lawn and clean the gutters, which are clogged.

While I’m away at the convention, I need you to mow the lawn and clean the gutters, which are clogged.

While I’m away at the convention, I need you to do the following chores, mow the lawn and clean the gutters, which are clogged.

While I’m away at the convention, I need you to mow the lawn and clean the gutters which are clogged.

Correct answer:

While I’m away at the convention, I need you to mow the lawn and clean the gutters, which are clogged.

Explanation:

Because “mow the lawn and clean out the gutters,” isn’t a list of three or more items, no colon is necessary to introduce it. “While I’m away at the convention” and “which are clogged” are dependent clauses, so they must be separated from the main clause with a comma. A better sentence would read as follows: “While I’m away at the convention, I need you to mow the lawn and clean out the gutters, which are clogged.”

Example Question #17 : Correcting Colon Errors

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

Randall wasn’t sure if the choir should: meet to rehearse at his house, hold a dress rehearsal in the auditorium, or take a day off so everyone could rest their voices.

Possible Answers:

Randall wasn’t sure if the choir should: meet to rehearse at his house, hold a dress rehearsal in the auditorium, or take a day off so everyone could rest their voices.

Randall wasn’t sure if the choir should meet to rehearse at his house, hold a dress rehearsal in the auditorium, or take a day off so everyone could rest their voices.

Randall wasn’t sure if the choir should; meet to rehearse at his house, hold a dress rehearsal in the auditorium, or take a day off so everyone could rest their voices.

Randall wasn’t sure if the choir should: Meet to rehearse at his house, hold a dress rehearsal in the auditorium, or take a day off so everyone could rest their voices.

Randall wasn’t sure if the choir should, meet to rehearse at his house, hold a dress rehearsal in the auditorium, or take a day off so everyone could rest their voices.

Correct answer:

Randall wasn’t sure if the choir should meet to rehearse at his house, hold a dress rehearsal in the auditorium, or take a day off so everyone could rest their voices.

Explanation:

Because “Randall wasn’t sure if the choir should” isn’t an independent clause, 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.

Example Question #18 : Correcting Colon Errors

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

The company has several popular shampoo scents; summer watermelon, honeyed peach, coconut, and tangerine.

Possible Answers:

The company has several popular shampoo scents; summer watermelon, honeyed peach, coconut, and tangerine.

The company has several popular shampoo scents, summer watermelon, honeyed peach, coconut, tangerine.

The company has several popular shampoo scents, summer watermelon, honeyed peach, coconut, and tangerine.

The company has several popular shampoo scents: Summer watermelon, honeyed peach, coconut, and tangerine.

The company has several popular shampoo scents: summer watermelon, honeyed peach, coconut, and tangerine.

Correct answer:

The company has several popular shampoo scents: summer watermelon, honeyed peach, coconut, and tangerine.

Explanation:

Here, we’re separating an independent clause (“The company has several popular shampoo scents”) from a list (“summer watermelon, honeyed peach, coconut, and tangerine”), so the correct punctuation is a colon and not a semicolon. Semicolons are only used to separate two independent clauses, not an independent clause and a list. Since the list that follows the semicolon isn’t a complete sentence, the first word shouldn’t be capitalized.

Example Question #19 : Correcting Colon Errors

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

I’ve never been a good chef, I tend to get distracted and forget that there’s food on the stove.

Possible Answers:

I’ve never been a good chef, I tend to get distracted, and, forget that there’s food on the stove.

I’ve never been a good chef: I tend to get distracted and forget that there’s food on the stove.

I’ve never been a good chef: I tend to get distracted, and forget that there’s food on the stove.

I’ve never been a good chef, I tend to get distracted and forget that there’s food on the stove.

I’ve never been a good chef, I tend to get distracted, and forget that there’s food on the stove.

Correct answer:

I’ve never been a good chef: I tend to get distracted and forget that there’s food on the stove.

Explanation:

A colon is the best choice to separate these two independent clauses, since the second clause is elaborating upon an idea introduced in the first clause. Because “forget that there’s food on the stove” isn’t an independent clause, a comma is not required before the conjunction (“and”).

Example Question #20 : Correcting Colon Errors

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

Jenelle was having a hard time hearing the speaker: she hates when conferences don’t provide good microphones and sound equipment for their lecturers.

Possible Answers:

Jenelle was having a hard time hearing the speaker: she hates when conferences don’t provide good microphones and sound equipment for their lecturers.

Jenelle was having a hard time, hearing the speaker. She hates when conferences don’t provide good microphones and sound equipment for their lecturers.

Jenelle was having a hard time hearing the speaker, she hates when conferences don’t provide good microphones and sound equipment for their lecturers.

Jenelle was having a hard time hearing the speaker: She hates when conferences don’t provide good microphones and sound equipment for their lecturers.

Jenelle was having a hard time hearing the speaker; she hates when conferences don’t provide good microphones and sound equipment for their lecturers.

Correct answer:

Jenelle was having a hard time hearing the speaker; she hates when conferences don’t provide good microphones and sound equipment for their lecturers.

Explanation:

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

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