Colon Usage Practice Questions

1. You must bring basic supplies to class, such as: a pen or pencil, paper, a calculator, and a textbook.
A. supplies to class, such as a pen or pencil, paper, a calculator, and a textbook.
B. supplies to class: such as, a pen or pencil, paper, a calculator, and a textbook.
C. supplies to class: such as: a pen or pencil, paper, a calculator, and a textbook.
D. No error

2. The jeweler’s “four Cs” of appraising diamonds are these: Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carats.
A. diamonds are these. Color, Cut, Clarity, and Carats.
B. diamonds are these, Color: Clarity: Cut: and Carats.
C. diamonds: are these Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carats.
D. No error

3. The ideal candidate will be able to (1) do research, (2) write articles, and (3) edit and proofread.
A. will be able to:
B. The ideal candidate: will
C. to (1): do research, (2): write articles, and (3): edit and proofread.
D. No error

4. The following donations are especially needed

• Disposable diapers
• Warm blankets
• Infant formula
A. The following donations are especially needed.
B. The following donations are especially needed:
C. The following donations are especially needed,
D. No error

5. He was dehydrated; he had drunk no water in days.
A. He was dehydrated, he had drunk no water in days.
B. He was dehydrated: He had drunk no water in days.
C. He was dehydrated: he had drunk no water in days.
D. No error

6. Whole grains are better than refined grains; they have more fiber. They are also more filling.
A. than refined grains: they have
B. than refined grains: They have
C. than refined grains, they have
D. No error

7. Dear Mr. President,
A. Dear Mr. President:
B. Dear Mr. President;
C. Dear Mr. President—
D. No error

8. In 1848, as a first-term Congressman, Abraham Lincoln defended the right of self-government for Texas when he said, “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable – a most sacred right – a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world.”
A. In 1848, as a first-term Congressman, Abraham Lincoln defended the right of self-government for Texas when he said:
“Any people anywhere…”
B. In 1848, as a first-term Congressman, Abraham Lincoln defended the right of self-government for Texas when he said “Any people anywhere…”
C. In 1848, as a first-term Congressman, Abraham Lincoln defended the right of self-government for Texas when he said:
Any people anywhere…
D. No error

9. I drive my car much less than I did 10 years ago: because I work at home now.
A. ten years ago: Because
B. ten years ago; because
C. ten years ago because
D. No error

10. International Business Systems
3001 Farrington Street, #105-B
Dallas, Texas 75207

October 23, 2011

Ms. Marta Betancourt
3006 Woodside, #3011
Dallas, Texas 75204

Dear Marta:

A. Dear Marta,
B. Dear Marta;
C. Dear Ms. Betancourt,
D. No error

Answers – Colon Usage

1. A: A rule for using colons is to add one between a complete sentence and a list of items in the absence of introductory words. In this example, the introductory words are “such as,” precluding the need for a colon. No punctuation is needed before or after “such as.” Without these words, a colon would be correct (e.g. “You must bring basic supplies to class: a pen or pencil…”).

2. D: This construction is correct. When listing items following a complete sentence, introduce them with a colon if no introductory words (e.g. “that is,” “for example,” “namely,” etc.) are included. The period in choice A is incorrect because the list that follows it is not a sentence. Additionally, there is nothing introducing the list to show the relationship between it and the sentence preceding it. A colon is a better choice than the comma in choice B. This choice also incorrectly places colons between each of the “C” words. Placing a colon after “diamonds” (choice C) is incorrect, as is omitting the colon after “these.”

3. D: When listing items, no colon is used unless a complete sentence precedes the list. In this example, “The ideal candidate will be able to” is not a complete sentence, so no colon is used. (Note: Some publications allow a colon to be used as a “style choice,” but this is not a grammatical rule.) There is no reason to place a colon between “candidate” (the subject) and “will.” It is incorrect to put colons after each number in the list.

4. B: The rule is to use a colon to introduce a list of items when the list is preceded by a complete sentence, as in this case. The period and the comma are not used for this purpose. Note also that when listing single words or phrases as bullet points, as in this example, punctuation and capitalization are optional.

5. C: When the second of two independent clauses illustrates or explains the first clause and there is no coordinating conjunction between them (e.g. “because,” “as,” or “since”), separate the two with a colon rather than a semicolon. Separating two independent clauses with a comma is incorrect. The first word of the second clause (the one immediately following the colon) should be capitalized only if two or more clauses or sentences are used to explain or illustrate the first clause. When only one explanatory or illustrative clause follows the first clause, no capitalization is necessary.

6. B: The second independent clause of the first sentence explains the first independent clause. When this is the case, separate the two clauses with a colon, not a semicolon. If only one explanatory clause or sentence follows the first clause, do not capitalize the first word of the second clause. However, if two or more explanatory clauses or sentences follow the first, as in this example, the first word of the second clause should be capitalized. Using a comma to separate independent clauses is incorrect.

7. A: This salutation opens a formal business letter. The correct punctuation for business letter salutations is the colon. The comma is only used in salutations for personal or informal letters (e.g. “Dear John,”). The semicolon is not a correct punctuation mark for any letter salutation. The hyphen or dash is only used in very informal communications, such as e-mails, mass-mailed promotional form letters, etc.

8. C: When using a quotation longer than three lines, the quotation should be introduced with a colon, not a comma. It should also have a blank space above and below it. Additionally, quotations this long should be indented. Finally, quotation marks should not enclose such spaced, indented, longer quotations. The form of the quotation presented in the question breaks all of these rules. Choice A contains a colon and the quotation is indented, but quotation marks are incorrectly used and there is no space above or below the quotation. Choice B has no punctuation to introduce the quotation. There are no indentations or spaces, and it includes quotation marks.

9. C: No punctuation is required within this sentence. The word “because” is a subordinating conjunction that connects the clause “I work at home now” to the first clause, “I drive my car much less than I did 10 years ago.” The colon would only be used in place of the word “because,” not in addition to it. Placing a colon before “Because” and capitalizing the “B” is also incorrect. A colon followed by a sentence with the first letter of the first word capitalized is only correct if a subordinating conjunction like “because” is not used. The second sentence must also illustrate or explain the previous one. Placing a semicolon before “because” is also incorrect.

10. D: This is correct. The rule for business letter salutations is to use a colon even when using the addressee’s first name. While the more formal “Ms. Betancourt” might be preferred in a business letter, there are business communications with first-name salutations. For example, the writer may have a business (not personal) relationship with the addressee, but it is a long-standing, cordial relationship, and they call one another by their first names. Also, some businesses may use first-name salutations to establish rapport with addressees. Commas are only for personal letters. Semicolons are never used for letter salutations.

 

Last Updated: June 3, 2019