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Separating Clauses

In this exercise you will be presented with a sentence punctuated in different ways. You will have to decide which of the alternatives is punctuated correctly. This exercise tests your understanding of colons, semi-colons and commas.

1

a) Steve always went to watch football: he loved the atmosphere at the games.
b) Steve always went to watch football, he loved the atmosphere at the games.
c) Steve always went to watch football; he loved the atmosphere at the games.
Please select an answerThink again. These are two independent clauses.Think again. You cannot use a comma to connect two independent clauses. This is the comma splice.Correct. The two clauses are independent and can be connected by a semi-colon.
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2

a) I love eating; eggs, bacon, cheese and toast.
b) I love eating eggs bacon cheese and toast.
c) I love eating eggs, bacon, cheese and toast.
Please select an answerTry again. You cannot use a semicolon here. Try again. You need something to separate the elements in the list. Fantastic. No colon needed here, but commas are required.
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3

a) These are my favourite countries; Spain Hungary India and Greece.
b) These are my favourite countries: Spain, Hungary, India and Greece.
c) These are my favourite countries: Spain Hungary India and Greece.
Please select an answerThink again. To use a semi-colon, both clauses must make sense on their own. Well done. You can use a colon to introduce the list and then commas to separate the elements.Think again. The colon is correct but you need something to separate the elements in the list.
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4

a) As the sun was rising. Steve was getting into bed.
b) As the sun was rising, Steve was getting into bed.
c) As the sun was rising; Steve was getting into bed.
Please select an answerThink again. The first clause is not a sentence.Correct. Use the comma to set off an introductory phrase.Think again. You can use a comma only when you are connecting two clauses that make sense on their own.
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5

a) I love writing; English was always my favourite subject.
b) I love writing English; was always my favourite subject.
c) I love writing, English was always my favourite subject.
Please select an answerWell done. You can use a semi-colon to connect two related and independent clauses. Oops. If you put a semi-colon there, the second clause makes no sense on its own. Oops. This is the comma splice. You have used a comma to separate two independent clauses.
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6

a) My old boss used to say: 'Chin up lad.'
b) My old boss used to say; 'Chin up lad.'
c) My old boss used to say, 'Chin up lad.'
Please select an answerTry again. Although you can use a colon to introduce a quote, the clause before the colon has to be able to stand alone. Try again. You can only use a semi-colon to connect two independent clauses. Well done. Use a comma to separate direct speech from the rest of the sentence.
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7

a) Paul hates anything technical so, he never turns his computer on.
b) Paul hates anything technical, so he never turns his computer on.
c) Paul hates anything technical; so he never turns his computer on.
Please select an answerThink again. A comma needs to come before a co-ordinating conjunction. Well done. You need a comma before a co-ordinating conjunction like so.Think again. The second clause here is not independent; it cannot stand alone.
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8

a) Jill Paul's wife was kind, generous, clever and a fantastic cook.
b) Jill, Paul's wife, was kind generous clever and a fantastic cook.
c) Jill, Paul's wife, was kind, generous, clever and a fantastic cook.
Please select an answerThink again. Think about where to put the commas.Think again. You need commas to separate elements in a list.Well done. You need commas to set off the parenthetical phrase and to separate the elements in the list.
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9

a) I love travelling: Spain, India, Thailand and Hungary are my favourite countries.
b) I love travelling Spain, India, Thailand and Hungary are my favourite countries.
c) I love travelling; Spain, India, Thailand and Hungary are my favourite countries.
Please select an answerI think a semicolon might be better to separate these clauses although a colon seems to be alright.Think again. You need some sort of punctuation to separate these two independent clauses. You can use a semicolon to separate the clauses and commas to separate the elements in the list.
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10

a) "I love it here," he said. "It's so peaceful."
b) "I love it here," he said, It's so peaceful."
c) "I love it here" he said "It's so peaceful."
Please select an answerWell done. You have used a full stop and avoided the comma splice. Oops. This is a classic example of the comma splice. The two spoken clauses are independent and need something more than a comma to separate them.Oops. You need some punctuation to separate the direct speech from the rest of the sentence.
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See a list of other grammar exercises.