GMAT Verbal : Correcting Semicolon Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GMAT Verbal

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : 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 reproduces the underlined portion as it is written in the sentence.

Carrie and her cat, Mittens; were having a relaxing afternoon, Mittens was basking in a sunbeam near Carrie's feet.

Possible Answers:

Carrie and her cat, Mittens; were having a relaxing afternoon, Mittens was basking in a sunbeam near Carrie's feet.

Carrie and her cat, Mittens, were having a relaxing afternoon. Mittens was basking in a sunbeam; near Carrie's feet.

Carrie and her cat, Mittens, were having a relaxing afternoon; Mittens was basking in a sunbeam near Carrie's feet.

Carrie and her cat; Mittens, were having a relaxing afternoon. Mittens was basking in a sunbeam near Carrie's feet.

Carrie and her cat, Mittens, were having a relaxing afternoon. Mittens was basking; in a sunbeam near Carrie's feet.

Correct answer:

Carrie and her cat, Mittens, were having a relaxing afternoon; Mittens was basking in a sunbeam near Carrie's feet.

Explanation:

The correct use of a semicolon is connecting two related independent clauses. If a part of a sentence can't stand alone as a sentence, it can't be connected to another part of the sentence with a semicolon. In this case, the correct form is "Carrie and her cat, Mittens, were having a relaxing afternoon; Mittens was basking in a sunbeam near Carrie's feet," which connects the two related sentences with a semicolon.

Example Question #11 : 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.

The entire party worked to get the candidate elected; but the election still went against him.

Possible Answers:

The entire party worked to get the candidate elected; and the election still went against him.

The entire party worked to get the candidate elected; so the election still went against him.

The entire party worked to get the candidate elected, but the election still went against him.

The entire party worked to get the candidate elected; but the election still went against him.

The entire party worked to get the candidate elected but the election still went against him.

Correct answer:

The entire party worked to get the candidate elected, but the election still went against him.

Explanation:

The sentence is written as a compound sentence, one that joins two independent clauses together in order to show their relationship. A compound sentence can only be joined by either a semicolon or a comma followed by a conjunction, but not a semicolon and a conjunction, as in this sentence as it is written. The only answer choice that correctly joins the two clauses is "The entire party worked to get the candidate elected, but the election still went against him."

Example Question #21 : 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 Punic Wars were three separate wars between Rome and Carthage in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE; giving rise to notable historical figures such as Hannibal and Scipio.

Possible Answers:

The Punic Wars were three separate wars between Rome and Carthage in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE; giving rise

The Punic Wars were three separate wars between Rome and Carthage in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE, giving rise

The Punic Wars were three separate wars between Rome and Carthage in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE giving rise

The Punic Wars were three separate wars between Rome and Carthage in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE: they gave rise 

The Punic Wars were three separate wars between Rome and Carthage in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE, which gave rise

Correct answer:

The Punic Wars were three separate wars between Rome and Carthage in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE, giving rise

Explanation:

The second clause in this sentence starts with the gerund "giving," indicating that this clause modifies the subject of the first clause. Semicolons should be used when they separate two independent clauses, which is not the case here. For this reason, a comma is the most appropriate punctuation.

Example Question #22 : Correcting Semicolon Errors

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

Mary hated her new job because she loathed her boss; a strict totalitarian with no sense of humor or leniency for minor infractions. 

Possible Answers:

Mary hated her new job because she loathed her boss: she was a strict totalitarian with no sense of humor or leniency for minor infractions. 

Mary hated her new job because she loathed her boss, a strict totalitarian with no sense of humor nor leniency for minor infractions. 

Mary hated her new job because she loathed her boss; a strict totalitarian with no sense of humor or leniency for minor infractions. 

Mary hated her new job because she loathed her boss; a strict totalitarian with no sense of humor nor leniency for minor infractions. 

Mary hated her new job because she loathed her boss, a strict totalitarian with no sense of humor or leniency for minor infractions. 

Correct answer:

Mary hated her new job because she loathed her boss, a strict totalitarian with no sense of humor or leniency for minor infractions. 

Explanation:

A semicolon is the inappropriate punctuation to use in the sentence as originally written. A comma is better, as a semicolon should only be used to divide two independent clauses. The fragment after the punctuation is just that - a fragment - used to modify "her boss." For this reason, a comma is appropriate.

Example Question #23 : 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 children wanted to stay up late and watch the movie; but they were ordered to go to bed.

Possible Answers:

stay up late and watch the movie: but they were ordered to go to bed.

stay up late and watch the movie, but they were ordered to go to bed.

stay up late and watch the movie; but they were ordered to go to bed.

stay up late and watch the movie - but they were ordered to go to bed.

stay up late and watch the movie but they were ordered to go to bed.

Correct answer:

stay up late and watch the movie, but they were ordered to go to bed.

Explanation:

This sentence misuses a semicolon: semicolons should be used when a coordinating conjunction (in this case, "but") is present to join two independent clauses. A comma should be substituted instead, making the correct choice: "stay up late and watch the movie, but they were ordered to go to bed."

Example Question #22 : 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.

She loved to listen to music while working, she found that she was much more productive when she did this.

Possible Answers:

to listen to music while working; she found that she was much more productive

to listen to music while working, she found that she was much more productive

to listen to music while working but she found that she was much more productive

to listen to music while working, she found that she was much more productive,

to listen to music while working; she found that she was much more productive,

Correct answer:

to listen to music while working; she found that she was much more productive

Explanation:

This sentence joins two separate, but related, independent clauses together without the use of a conjunction. Therefore, they should be joined with a semicolon. The correct choice is, "to listen to music while working; she found that she was much more productive."

Example Question #24 : 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.

While listening to song, Joshua noticed something he never heard before, there was the slight sound of cymbals in the background.

Possible Answers:

Joshua noticed something he never heard before; there was the slight sound of cymbals: in the background.

Joshua noticed something he never heard before there was, the slight sound of cymbals in the background.

Joshua noticed something he never heard before there was the slight sound of cymbals in the background.

Joshua noticed something he never heard before, there was the slight sound of cymbals in the background.

Joshua noticed something he never heard before; there was the slight sound of cymbals in the background.

Correct answer:

Joshua noticed something he never heard before; there was the slight sound of cymbals in the background.

Explanation:

This sentence misuses a comma. In this sentence, two independent clauses are joined without the use of a coordinate conjunction. Instead of a comma before the word "there," there should be a semicolon. The correct answer is: "Joshua noticed something he never heard before; there was the slight sound of cymbals in the background."

Example Question #25 : 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.

Because he loved to listen to music, he collected audio equipment, he loved to create and listen to music in the best quality possible.

Possible Answers:

he collected audio equipment: he loved to create and listen to music in the best quality possible.

he collected audio equipment, he loved to create and listen to music in the best quality possible.

he collected audio equipment; he loved to create, and listen to music in the best quality possible.

he collected audio equipment he loved to create and listen to music in the best quality possible.

he collected audio equipment: he loved to create, and listen to music in the best quality possible.

Correct answer:

he collected audio equipment: he loved to create and listen to music in the best quality possible.

Explanation:

This sentence misuses a comma. Instead of a comma after the word "equipment," a colon is more appropriate because the last clause explains the preceding one (It gives information as to why he collects the audio equipment). No other punctuation is necessary. The correct choice is: "he collected audio equipment: he loved to create and listen to music in the best quality possible."

Example Question #121 : Sentence Correction

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.

Maxwell aspired to be an accountant; but he was intimidated by the difficultly of becoming certified.

Possible Answers:

to be an accountant; but he was intimidated, by the difficultly

to be an accountant; but he was intimidated by the difficultly

to be an accountant; but, he was intimidated by the difficultly

to be an accountant, but he was intimidated by the difficultly

to be an accountant but he was intimidated by the difficultly

Correct answer:

to be an accountant, but he was intimidated by the difficultly

Explanation:

This sentence misuses a semicolon. The sentence joins two independent clauses together with the use of the coordinate conjunction "but," so a comma should come before this word, instead of a semicolon. The correct choice is, "to be an accountant, but he was intimidated by the difficultly."

Example Question #122 : Sentence Correction

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 company was instituting a new policy in order to cut down on corruption. Liam did not like the new policy; however, because it meant a much greater workload for him.

Possible Answers:

policy, however, because it meant a much greater workload for him.

policy; however, because it meant a much greater workload for him.

policy however because it meant a much greater workload for him.

policy however, because it meant a much greater workload for him.

policy; however, because it meant a much, greater workload for him.

Correct answer:

policy, however, because it meant a much greater workload for him.

Explanation:

This sentence misuses a semicolon. A semicolon should not come before "however" in this case because "however" is not being used to join two independent clauses. The phrase "because it meant a much greater workload for him" is not an independent clause, so however should be offset in commas as it is acting more like an interjection. The correct choice is: "policy, however, because it meant a much greater workload for him."

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