SAT Writing : Correcting Semicolon Errors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #21 : 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 general knew he had lost the battle his troops could fight no more.

Possible Answers:

the battle his troops

the battle, his troops

the battle: his troops

the battle; his troops

the battle the troops

Correct answer:

the battle; his troops

Explanation:

Whenever you have two independent clauses (grammatically complete sentences that could stand on their own), they must be separated somehow. Semicolons are one such potential separation, along with a period, or a comma paired with a coordinating conjunctions. The best option to replace the underlined portion of the sentence above is, "the battle; his troops."

Example Question #22 : 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.

I hate the weather when it's too hot I love the cold of November.

Possible Answers:

it's too; hot I love

it's too hot I, love

it's too hot I love

it's too hot; I love

it's too, hot, I love

Correct answer:

it's too hot; I love

Explanation:

Whenever you have two independent clauses (i.e. two potential sentences that could stand on their own), they must be separated somehow. Semicolons are one such potential separation. The other two possibilities are a period and a coordinating conjunction paired with a comma. Here, since the two thoughts are connected, the best option to replace the underlined portion of the sentence above is, "it's too hot; I love.

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

My friend Kevin always wants to go out: I prefer to stay in with a good book.

Possible Answers:

to go out; I prefer;

to go out: I prefer

to go out, I prefer 

to go out I prefer

to go out; I prefer 

Correct answer:

to go out; I prefer 

Explanation:

Whenever you have two independent clauses (i.e. two potential sentences that could stand on their own), they must be separated somehow. Semi-colons are one such potential separation. The other two options are a period and a coordinating conjunction preceded by a comma. The best option to replace the underlined portion of the sentence above is, "to go out; I prefer.

Example Question #21 : Correcting Punctuation 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.

My tutor taught me math my brother taught me science.

Possible Answers:

me math, my brother

me, math my brother

me math; my brother

me math my brother

me math: my brother

Correct answer:

me math; my brother

Explanation:

Whenever you have two independent clauses (grammatically complete sentences that could stand on their own), they must be separated somehow. Semicolons are one such potential separation. The other option are a period and a comma paired with a coordinating conjunctions. The best option to replace the underlined portion of the sentence above is, "me math; my brother.

Note that colons and semicolons should never be used interchangeably.

Example Question #21 : 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.

Because of his explosive jumping ability, his elite speed, and his great knowledge of the game; Derrick was expected to be a superstar at the next level.

Possible Answers:

game; Derrick

game: Derrick

game. Derrick

game, Derrick

game Derrick

Correct answer:

game, Derrick

Explanation:

Semicolons are used to separate two independent clauses (an independent clause is one that could stand as a full sentence on its own). The first half of this sentence (starting with "Because...") cannot stand on its own and, thus, is a dependent clause. Neither a semicolon nor a period would be appropriate here. A simple comma is the best choice for punctuation in this sentence.

Example Question #21 : 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.

Leopards can climb trees; which allows them to eat in peace without having to worry about other predators sneaking up on them.

Possible Answers:

Leopards can climb trees; and allowing them to eat in peace without having to worry about other predators sneaking up on them.

Leopards can climb trees by allowing them to eat in peace without having to worry about other predators sneaking up on them.

Leopards can climb trees; allowing them to eat in peace without having to worry about other predators sneaking up on them.

Leopards can climb trees; which allows them to eat in peace without having to worry about other predators sneaking up on them.

Leopards can climb trees, which allows them to eat in peace without having to worry about other predators sneaking up on them.

Correct answer:

Leopards can climb trees, which allows them to eat in peace without having to worry about other predators sneaking up on them.

Explanation:

A semicolon is used to separate two independent clauses - clauses that can stand as full sentences on their own. A clause beginning with the relativizer "which," such as the one in this sentence, is a dependent clause. In this instance, a comma is the appropriate choice over a semicolon.

Example Question #22 : 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 angry horde was out for blood; but the police were there to maintain order.

Possible Answers:

blood for

blood; and

blood; but

blood, but 

blood but 

Correct answer:

blood, but 

Explanation:

In the sentence above, the two independent clauses must be joined somehow. One potential solution is to place a comma and a conjunction between them. Another potential solution is to place a semicolon between them; however, using both a semicolon and a conjunction is incorrect. Therefore, the best choice from the answers above is to omit the semicolon and use a comma instead.

Example Question #23 : 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.

Nobody trusted him at first, yet in the end; the world was saved by the young farmhand.  

Possible Answers:

yet in the end; the

yet in the end: the

yet in the end. The

yet in the end, the

yet in the end the

Correct answer:

yet in the end, the

Explanation:

The "yet in the end" functions in the sentence above as an interrupting, subordinate phrase. Therefore, it should be separated from the rest of the sentence by commas, not a comma and a semi colon. Therefore, "yet in the end," is the best answer to the question.

Example Question #21 : 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.

I appreciate the gift; but I don't appreciate the spirit in which it was given.

Possible Answers:

I appreciate; the gift, I dont appreciate the malice with which it was given.

I appreciate the gift, I don't appreciate the malice with which it was given.

I appreciate the gift: but I don't appreciate the malice with which it was given.

I appreciate the gift; but I don't appreciate the spirit in which it was given.

I appreciate the gift, but I don't appreciate the spirit in which it was given.

Correct answer:

I appreciate the gift, but I don't appreciate the spirit in which it was given.

Explanation:

Semicolons may be used to separate two related, independent clauses; however they must be used alone, and without any accompanying conjunction. The best way to correct the underlined portion above is: "I appreciate the gift, but I don't appreciate the spirit in which it was given."

Example Question #31 : 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.

I love Sao Paulo more than any other city; for Brazil is a staggeringly beautiful country.

Possible Answers:

I love Sao Paulo more than any other city... Brazil is a staggeringly beautiful country

I love Sao Paulo more than any other city, with Brazil is a staggeringly beautiful country.

I love Sao Paulo more than any other city, Brazil is a staggeringly beautiful country.

I love Sao Paulo more than any other city; for Brazil is a staggeringly beautiful country.

I love Sao Paulo more than any other city; Brazil is a staggeringly beautiful country.

Correct answer:

I love Sao Paulo more than any other city; Brazil is a staggeringly beautiful country.

Explanation:

Semicolons may be used to separate two related, independent clauses; however they must be used alone, and without any accompanying conjunction. The best way to correct the underlined portion above is: "I love Sao Paulo more than any other city; Brazil is a staggeringly beautiful country."

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