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Revise Your Punctuation: Colons and Semi-Colons 1

In this worksheet, students revise colons, semi-colons and other punctuation for lists and quotations.

'Revise Your Punctuation: Colons and Semi-Colons 1' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:   Grammar and Vocabulary

Curriculum subtopic:   Extend and Apply Grammatical Knowledge

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Colons and semi-colons can both be used in lists, but in different parts of the sentence.

 

A colon is used to introduce a list if the first part of the sentence makes sense on its own.

I have three best friends: Neela, Josie and Karla.

 

If the first part of the sentence doesn't make sense on its own then a colon is not used.

My three best friends are Neela, Josie and Karla.

 

Semi-colons can be used to separate items in a list if the items consist of more than one word.

I need to buy two tins of tomatoes; a leg of lamb; a sack of potatoes; and three pints of milk.

On our cruise we went to Athens, Greece; Naples, Italy; Malaga, Spain; and Nice, France.

 

Commas could be used instead for the first example above, as the list would still be easy to understand. However, if commas were used in the second one it would look like eight different places instead of four.

 

A colon can also be used to introduce a quotation or direct speech if the first part of the sentence makes sense on its own.

My nanna has a favourite saying: "Look after the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves."

 

Again, a colon should not be used if the first part of the sentence does not make sense on its own. A comma is used instead.

My nanna says, "Look after the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves."

 

Semi-colons are never used to introduce speech or quotations.

Read the following sentence and decide whether or not it has been correctly punctuated.

 

We need to take: a drink, a packed lunch and a raincoat.

Correct

Incorrect

Read the following sentence and decide whether or not it has been correctly punctuated.

 

I have three favourite authors; JK Rowling, Jacqueline Wilson and Anthony Horowitz.

Correct

Incorrect

Read the following sentence and decide whether or not it has been correctly punctuated.

 

I will never forget the last thing my grandad said to me: "I am proud of you."

Correct

Incorrect

Read the following sentence and decide whether or not it has been correctly punctuated.

 

The United Kingdom has four capital cities: London, England; Edinburgh, Scotland; Cardiff, Wales; and Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Correct

Incorrect

Read the following sentences and decide which are correctly punctuated.

 

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

 

2) The colours of the rainbow are red; orange; yellow; green; blue; indigo and violet.

Sentence 1

Sentence 2

Both are correct

Read the following sentences and decide which are correctly punctuated.

 

1) The police found a wallet, a gold watch, some jewellery, a cigarette box and a pearl necklace.

 

2) The police found a wallet; a gold watch; some jewellery; a cigarette box and a pearl necklace.

Sentence 1

Sentence 2

Both are correct

Read the following sentences and decide which are correctly punctuated.

 

1) The menu included several dishes: roast beef and Yorkshire puddings, served with roast potatoes; battered cod, served with chips and peas; and chicken and ham pie, served with baked beans.

 

2) The menu included several dishes: roast beef and Yorkshire puddings, served with roast potatoes, battered cod, served with chips and peas and chicken and ham pie, served with baked beans.

Sentence 1

Sentence 2

Both are correct

Which of the following sentences are correctly punctuated?

 

1) Peter said: "Hurry up or we'll miss the train!"

 

2) Peter said, "Hurry up or we'll miss the train!"

Sentence 1

Sentence 2

Both are correct

Which word would you place a colon after in the sentence below to punctuate it correctly?

We are inviting five people to the party Josh Mikey Sarah Amira and Harry.

There are four punctuation mistakes in the sentence below. True or false?

 

Jacob said where are you?

True

False

  • Question 1

Read the following sentence and decide whether or not it has been correctly punctuated.

 

We need to take: a drink, a packed lunch and a raincoat.

CORRECT ANSWER
Incorrect
EDDIE SAYS
How did you get on here? This sentence is incorrect, although we know that colons can be used with a list. What we need to look at here is whether the part before the colon makes sense as a sentence on its own. 'We need to take' does not make sense on its own, as something has to come after it to make is complete. Think back to the example in the introduction, 'I have three best friends.' Can you see how this could be the end of the sentence? Remember this when looking at the use of punctuation in this activity.
  • Question 2

Read the following sentence and decide whether or not it has been correctly punctuated.

 

I have three favourite authors; JK Rowling, Jacqueline Wilson and Anthony Horowitz.

CORRECT ANSWER
Incorrect
EDDIE SAYS
Did you get this one right? The inclusion of a list may have made you think that the punctuation was correct but look carefully at what type of punctuation was used. The list should be introduced by a colon, not a semi-colon. Did you spot this?
  • Question 3

Read the following sentence and decide whether or not it has been correctly punctuated.

 

I will never forget the last thing my grandad said to me: "I am proud of you."

CORRECT ANSWER
Correct
EDDIE SAYS
Did you get this one correct? Refer back to the introduction if you are not sure. This sentence is a good example of the correct use of semicolons and colons right at the start. This example is correct as the first part makes sense on its own. Colons can be used when speech is involved as long as the part before the colon can stand alone.
  • Question 4

Read the following sentence and decide whether or not it has been correctly punctuated.

 

The United Kingdom has four capital cities: London, England; Edinburgh, Scotland; Cardiff, Wales; and Belfast, Northern Ireland.

CORRECT ANSWER
Correct
EDDIE SAYS
That was a bit of a challenge, wasn't it? Why are there so many semicolons within one sentence? The semi-colons help to show that there are four items in the list, not eight. The colon at the start also makes sense as the beginning 'The United Kingdom has four capital cities' makes sense on its own without anything else following.
  • Question 5

Read the following sentences and decide which are correctly punctuated.

 

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

 

2) The colours of the rainbow are red; orange; yellow; green; blue; indigo and violet.

CORRECT ANSWER
Sentence 1
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do with this one? The list only contains short words so semi-colons are not necessary. It is quite different to the question before. Make sure you really take a careful look at the punctuation in these sentences before making a decision.
  • Question 6

Read the following sentences and decide which are correctly punctuated.

 

1) The police found a wallet, a gold watch, some jewellery, a cigarette box and a pearl necklace.

 

2) The police found a wallet; a gold watch; some jewellery; a cigarette box and a pearl necklace.

CORRECT ANSWER
Both are correct
EDDIE SAYS
Did you spot that both of the sentences are correct? Semi-colons could be used here as the items in the list consist of more than one word. However, the list is still easy to understand if commas are used. Sometimes there is more than one way to be correct!
  • Question 7

Read the following sentences and decide which are correctly punctuated.

 

1) The menu included several dishes: roast beef and Yorkshire puddings, served with roast potatoes; battered cod, served with chips and peas; and chicken and ham pie, served with baked beans.

 

2) The menu included several dishes: roast beef and Yorkshire puddings, served with roast potatoes, battered cod, served with chips and peas and chicken and ham pie, served with baked beans.

CORRECT ANSWER
Sentence 1
EDDIE SAYS
Did this make you hungry? Think about the explanation in the previous question. When the list was straightforward, commas were enough between the items. Here we need to use semi-colons because the items on the list already contain commas as they are more detailed. The second version is very confusing and incorrect!
  • Question 8

Which of the following sentences are correctly punctuated?

 

1) Peter said: "Hurry up or we'll miss the train!"

 

2) Peter said, "Hurry up or we'll miss the train!"

CORRECT ANSWER
Sentence 2
EDDIE SAYS
Remember the process here? We only use a colon if the part of the sentence before it makes sense on its own. A colon should not be used here because 'Peter said' does not make sense on its own, so a comma is the correct way to punctuate this.
  • Question 9

Which word would you place a colon after in the sentence below to punctuate it correctly?

CORRECT ANSWER
We are inviting five people to the party Josh Mikey Sarah Amira and Harry.
EDDIE SAYS
Did you get this right? A colon is used because the first part of the sentence makes sense on its own. The main thing to remember from this exercise is that if the part before the colon can not stand alone, take the colon out!
  • Question 10

There are four punctuation mistakes in the sentence below. True or false?

 

Jacob said where are you?

CORRECT ANSWER
True
EDDIE SAYS
There were four things that needed changing here, did you spot them all? Firstly, a comma is needed after the word 'said' as the reader would pause here. Secondly, the speech marks should be opened to highlight that someone is speaking. Thirdly, the first word 'where' should have a capital as this is the start of the sentence being spoken. Finally, the speech marks need closing after 'you' to show the end of the spoken sentence. The sentence should read; Jacob said, "Where are you?" That was a challenging one to end on! Are you feeling more confident now using semicolons and colons in your own writing?
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