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Revise Your Punctuation: Colons and Semi-Colons 2

In this worksheet, students revise whether to use colons or semi-colons to join sentences.

'Revise Your Punctuation: Colons and Semi-Colons 2' 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 semicolons can both be used to join clauses and sentences, but it can be hard to decide which to use.

 

If the second sentence gives further information about the first part, then a colon is used to join them.

The weather forecast was wrong: it rained all day.

We had to hire a bigger hall: so many people wanted to come to the concert.

 

If the two sentences are closely connected in some other way, a semicolon is used.

My birthday is in January; my brother's is in March.

I had liver for tea yesterday; I hated it.

 

It would be correct to write all these examples as separate sentences, but using colons and semi-colons shows that the sentences are linked in some way and makes our writing more varied and interesting.

 

It is a very common mistake to use commas to join sentences but it is never correct to do so.

I had liver for tea yesterday, I hated it. (wrong)

Read the sentences below and decide which one is correctly punctuated.

 

1) I had to stay at home yesterday, I wasn't feeling well.

 

2) I had to stay at home yesterday: I wasn't feeling well.

Sentence 1

Sentence 2

Both are correct

Read the sentences below and decide which one is correctly punctuated.

 

1) My brother is fifteen; my sister is thirteen.

 

2) My brother is fifteen: my sister is thirteen.

Sentence 1

Sentence 2

Both are correct

Read the sentences below and tick all that are correctly punctuated.

 

1) Josie likes playing hockey: Olivia prefers tennis.

 

2) Josie likes playing hockey, Olivia prefers tennis.

 

3) Josie likes playing hockey; Olivia prefers tennis.

 

4) Josie likes playing hockey. Olivia prefers tennis.

Sentence 1

Sentence 2

Sentence 3

Sentence 4

Read the sentences below.

Which one is incorrectly punctuated?

 

1) Harry broke his leg yesterday, he was tackled badly during the match.

 

2) Harry broke his leg yesterday: he was tackled badly during the match.

 

3) Harry broke his leg yesterday. He was tackled badly during the match.

 

4) Harry broke his leg yesterday; he was tackled badly during the match.

Sentence 1

Sentence 2

Sentence 3

Sentence 4

Join the two sentences below, using either a semicolon or a colon.

 

My sister is learning the clarinet. My brother plays the guitar.

My sister is learning the clarinet; my brother plays the guitar.

My sister is learning the clarinet: my brother plays the guitar.

Join these two sentences, using either a semicolon or a colon. 

Explain your answer.

 

We were snowed in yesterday. The roads were completely blocked.

Colon - The second clause gives the reader more information about the first clause

Semicolon - The second clause is related to the first clause

A colon can also be used when the second part of the sentence is not a sentence in its own right.

 

For example:

There is only one flavour of ice cream worth eating: strawberry.

 

A semicolon is never used in this way.

 

Read the following sentences and decide which one is correctly punctuated.

1) I am looking forward to my birthday; a party, a trip to the cinema and lots of presents!

2) I am looking forward to my birthday: a party, a trip to the cinema and lots of presents!

Sentence 1

Sentence 2

Both are correct

Read the following sentences and identify which one is correctly punctuated.

 

1) There was only ever going to be one winner. Sophie.

 

2) There was only ever going to be one winner, Sophie.

 

3) There was only ever going to be one winner; Sophie.

 

4) There was only ever going to be one winner: Sophie.

Sentence 1

Sentence 2

Sentence 3

Sentence 4

Colons and semicolons can replace a conjunction in compound and complex sentences.

I went to bed early because I was tired.

I went to bed early: I was tired.

 

Write the following sentence out again, replacing the conjunction with either a colon or a semi-colon.

My mum is Scottish but my dad is Spanish.

Sentence 1

Sentence 2

Sentence 3

Sentence 4

Write the following sentence out again, replacing the conjunction with either a colon or a semicolon.

 

Jacob had to miss the school trip because he was ill.

Sentence 1

Sentence 2

Sentence 3

Sentence 4

  • Question 1

Read the sentences below and decide which one is correctly punctuated.

 

1) I had to stay at home yesterday, I wasn't feeling well.

 

2) I had to stay at home yesterday: I wasn't feeling well.

CORRECT ANSWER
Sentence 2
EDDIE SAYS
The second part of the sentence gives more information about the first so a colon should be used to join them. It would be correct to write them as two separate sentences, but not to join them with a comma.
  • Question 2

Read the sentences below and decide which one is correctly punctuated.

 

1) My brother is fifteen; my sister is thirteen.

 

2) My brother is fifteen: my sister is thirteen.

CORRECT ANSWER
Sentence 1
EDDIE SAYS
The two parts of the sentence are closely linked, but the second does not explain the first, so a semicolon should be used rather than a colon.
  • Question 3

Read the sentences below and tick all that are correctly punctuated.

 

1) Josie likes playing hockey: Olivia prefers tennis.

 

2) Josie likes playing hockey, Olivia prefers tennis.

 

3) Josie likes playing hockey; Olivia prefers tennis.

 

4) Josie likes playing hockey. Olivia prefers tennis.

CORRECT ANSWER
Sentence 3
Sentence 4
EDDIE SAYS
The sentences can be written separately or joined with a semicolon.
  • Question 4

Read the sentences below.

Which one is incorrectly punctuated?

 

1) Harry broke his leg yesterday, he was tackled badly during the match.

 

2) Harry broke his leg yesterday: he was tackled badly during the match.

 

3) Harry broke his leg yesterday. He was tackled badly during the match.

 

4) Harry broke his leg yesterday; he was tackled badly during the match.

CORRECT ANSWER
Sentence 1
EDDIE SAYS
Did you read the question carefully? This question asked for the incorrectly punctuated sentence. The second part of the sentence explains the first, so a colon can be used. As the two sentences are closely connected in some way, a semicolon can also be used. Alternatively, the two parts can be written as separate sentences.
  • Question 5

Join the two sentences below, using either a semicolon or a colon.

 

My sister is learning the clarinet. My brother plays the guitar.

CORRECT ANSWER
My sister is learning the clarinet; my brother plays the guitar.
EDDIE SAYS
How did you get on? As the second clause does not add additional information to the first, a colon would not be appropriate. Because the two clauses are related, we would use a semicolon.
  • Question 6

Join these two sentences, using either a semicolon or a colon. 

Explain your answer.

 

We were snowed in yesterday. The roads were completely blocked.

CORRECT ANSWER
Colon - The second clause gives the reader more information about the first clause
EDDIE SAYS
The sentence correctly punctuated would read: We were snowed in yesterday: the roads were completely blocked. This is because the 'roads were completely blocked' gives us more information about the snow yesterday.
  • Question 7

A colon can also be used when the second part of the sentence is not a sentence in its own right.

 

For example:

There is only one flavour of ice cream worth eating: strawberry.

 

A semicolon is never used in this way.

 

Read the following sentences and decide which one is correctly punctuated.

1) I am looking forward to my birthday; a party, a trip to the cinema and lots of presents!

2) I am looking forward to my birthday: a party, a trip to the cinema and lots of presents!

CORRECT ANSWER
Sentence 2
EDDIE SAYS
A colon is needed because the second part of the sentence is a list, not a sentence in its own right. A semicolon is used to introduce a list that contains commas.
  • Question 8

Read the following sentences and identify which one is correctly punctuated.

 

1) There was only ever going to be one winner. Sophie.

 

2) There was only ever going to be one winner, Sophie.

 

3) There was only ever going to be one winner; Sophie.

 

4) There was only ever going to be one winner: Sophie.

CORRECT ANSWER
Sentence 4
EDDIE SAYS
Only sentence 4 is correct. The word 'Sophie' is not a sentence in its own right. Did you spot that?
  • Question 9

Colons and semicolons can replace a conjunction in compound and complex sentences.

I went to bed early because I was tired.

I went to bed early: I was tired.

 

Write the following sentence out again, replacing the conjunction with either a colon or a semi-colon.

My mum is Scottish but my dad is Spanish.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
This sentence needs a semicolon because the second clause is related to the first clause, but does not give additional information about the speaker's mum. The corrected sentence would read: My mum is Scottish; my dad is Spanish.
  • Question 10

Write the following sentence out again, replacing the conjunction with either a colon or a semicolon.

 

Jacob had to miss the school trip because he was ill.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
This sentence needs a colon because the second clause gives the reader additional information about the first. We know that Jacob missed the school trip because he was ill. Fantastic focus! You have reached the end of this activity and should now feel more confident when asked to decide between using colons and semicolons in sentences.
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