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Use Colons for Lists

In this worksheet, students decide whether or not to use a colon at the beginning of a list.

'Use Colons for Lists' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:   Writing: Vocabulary, Grammar and Punctuation

Curriculum subtopic:   Use Colons in Lists

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

A colon is a punctuation mark. It looks like this :

A colon is often used at the beginning of a bullet pointed list.

We need:

  • apples
  • pears
  • bananas
  • oranges
  • kiwi fruit

 

It can also be used in some other types of list, but not all lists.

 

The first of the following sentences needs a colon, but the second does not.

These are the people I am inviting to my party: Kate, Joe, Adil, Dwayne and Jamila.

I am inviting Kate, Joe, Adil, Dwayne and Jamila to my party.

 

So how can we decide whether we need a colon or not?

 

If the section of the sentence before the colon makes sense on its own, then we use a colon. If it doesn't make sense on its own, we don't use a colon.

'These are the people I am inviting to my party' makes sense on its own, but 'I am inviting' does not.

 

Let's see if we can put this into practice!

Which of the following sentences is correctly punctuated?

My favourite colours are blue, red and green.

My favourite colours are: blue, red and green.

Which of the following sentences is correctly punctuated?

The potion contained these ingredients: bats' tails, frogs' eyes and worms.

The potion contained these ingredients bats' tails, frogs' eyes and worms.

Which of the following sentences is correctly punctuated?

The colours of the rainbow are: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

The colours of the rainbow are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

Which of the following sentences is correctly punctuated?

Joe's best friends are: John, Jake and Jim.

Joe's best friends are John, Jake and Jim.

Which of the following sentences is correctly punctuated?

Please buy the following items: bread, milk, sausages and butter.

Please buy the following items, bread, milk, sausages and butter.

Which of the following sentences is correctly punctuated?

I am studying these languages: French, German and Italian.

I am studying these languages, French, German and Italian.

Which of the punctuation would you include to make the sentence below make sense?

 

Sanjay's favourite foods are apples chocolate and sausages.

Commas

Colon

No additional punctuation

Write out the following sentence, adding the correct punctuation.

 

These are the four seasons spring summer autumn and winter.

Comma

Colon

Comma AND Colon

No punctuation needed

Molly has written the sentence below:

 

Priya has been to: Paris Rome and Madrid

 

Arthur thinks that Molly has not punctuated her sentence correctly and writes:

 

Priya has been to Paris, Rome and Madrid.​

 

Who is correct?

Molly

Arthur

What punctuation would you add to the sentence below to make it correct?

 

Joey's presents included some wonderful things a bicycle a watch and some CDs.

Comma

Colon

Comma and Colon

No additional punctuation

  • Question 1

Which of the following sentences is correctly punctuated?

CORRECT ANSWER
My favourite colours are blue, red and green.
EDDIE SAYS
How did you get on with the first one? Did you remember the rule? The first part of the sentence must make sense on its own for the colon to be used. In this case 'My favourite colours are' is not a complete sentence, so we know that we SHOULD NOT use a colon here. Let's try another!
  • Question 2

Which of the following sentences is correctly punctuated?

CORRECT ANSWER
The potion contained these ingredients: bats' tails, frogs' eyes and worms.
EDDIE SAYS
Can you remember the rules? The first part of the sentence before the list must make sense on its own. In the sentences above we can see that 'The potion contained these ingredients' does make sense without the list that follows, so we can use a colon here. Are you getting the hang of this?
  • Question 3

Which of the following sentences is correctly punctuated?

CORRECT ANSWER
The colours of the rainbow are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
EDDIE SAYS
Remember the rules? The first part of the sentence doesn't make sense on its own, we need the rest of the list for it to work, so we know that there should not be a colon here. If the sentence was 'There are seven colours of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet' can you see how this would be correct? The first part is complete on its own. Think about a normal sentence, would you finish it with the word are? 'The colours of the rainbow are.' Doesn't make sense, does it? Remember, we only use a colon if the first part of the sentence makes sense on its own.
  • Question 4

Which of the following sentences is correctly punctuated?

CORRECT ANSWER
Joe's best friends are John, Jake and Jim.
EDDIE SAYS
Are you getting the hang of this now? 'Joe's best friends are.' would not make sense on its own. We do not need to use a colon, we use commas instead to separate the list.
  • Question 5

Which of the following sentences is correctly punctuated?

CORRECT ANSWER
Please buy the following items: bread, milk, sausages and butter.
EDDIE SAYS
Are you feeling more confident? Always go back to our rule? Does that first part (before the colon) make sense on its own? In this example, the first part of the sentence makes sense on its own so we can use a colon to introduce our list.
  • Question 6

Which of the following sentences is correctly punctuated?

CORRECT ANSWER
I am studying these languages: French, German and Italian.
EDDIE SAYS
Did you get it right? The first part of the sentence makes sense on its own so we can use a colon.
  • Question 7

Which of the punctuation would you include to make the sentence below make sense?

 

Sanjay's favourite foods are apples chocolate and sausages.

CORRECT ANSWER
Commas
EDDIE SAYS
Hopefully, when you looked at this question you thought about whether the first part made sense on its own? 'Sanjay's favourite foods are' doesn't make sense on its own so you don't need a colon. Nearly there well done!
  • Question 8

Write out the following sentence, adding the correct punctuation.

 

These are the four seasons spring summer autumn and winter.

CORRECT ANSWER
Comma AND Colon
EDDIE SAYS
'These are the four seasons' makes sense on its own so you need a colon to introduce the different months. Did you think the seasons needed capital letters? The seasons do not need capital letters in this sentence as they are common nouns as opposed to proper nouns. If the sentence referred to the 'Winter Olympics' then a capital letter would be needed as 'winter' in this context would be a proper noun. Well done for excellent effort!
  • Question 9

Molly has written the sentence below:

 

Priya has been to: Paris Rome and Madrid

 

Arthur thinks that Molly has not punctuated her sentence correctly and writes:

 

Priya has been to Paris, Rome and Madrid.​

 

Who is correct?

CORRECT ANSWER
Arthur
EDDIE SAYS
Feeling confident? Remember if the first part of the sentence doesn't make sense on its own you do not use a colon. 'Priya has been to' doesn't make sense on its own so you don't need a colon. This means that Molly is not quite right, but Arthur is! Well done, Arthur... he's been listening in class!
  • Question 10

What punctuation would you add to the sentence below to make it correct?

 

Joey's presents included some wonderful things a bicycle a watch and some CDs.

CORRECT ANSWER
Comma and Colon
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? 'Joe's presents included some wonderful things' makes sense on its own so you need a colon, but then we need to punctuate the rest of the sentence too. That's another activity completed. Great work! Shall we try another while you are on a roll?
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