SAT Night Live - SAT W&L: The semicolon that broke the law | The Princeton Review

SAT Night Live – SAT W&L: The semicolon that broke the law | The Princeton Review



hey everybody welcome back to another episode of SAT nightlife I'm your host Jennifer McDevitt coming to you live from New York City tonight we are going to be talking about punctuation in particular we're gonna talk a lot about this semicolon that really weird little mark that a lot of us don't know exactly when to use it and the colon it's kind of cousin that a lot of people also don't know how to use so let's take a look at some questions that involve these two punctuation marks and just to distinguish between the two we have our semicolon it's like a little period with a comma under it and then we have our colon so it's a dot was another underneath of it and then when it's all break down kind of a difference of what they mean and when we use them as we get into the content here so let's take a look at our first question number four which reads audiences customarily stand for the Hallelujah Chorus of Handel's Messiah it is said that on one occasion that King entered the hall at the point at that point in the work the audience is stood and audiences have done so since so if you remember from previous lessons when we're doing grammar and we see our answer choices we want to ask yourself what's changing in the answer choices so in this case we can see the punctuation is changing right so we have there is our semicolon and we have a comma in another comma and up here there's there's nothing going on over there and we also have some words changing right we see the word when and then we also see the word however so in this case we want to figure out well what punctuation do I need and that's where we can use a little test called the vertical line test and I'm going to show you in just a moment how the vertical line test works and I write this down so you have this for yourself vertical line whoops vertical line test so what does that mean well we want to draw a vertical line a literal line that's vertical in between some things to see if it's a complete or an incomplete idea and why is this important well the main reason that we're using a semicolon is to separate two complete ideas so if I have a semicolon I need to have a complete idea or a complete sentence that can stand alone then I can have a semicolon only if it's followed by another complete idea or complete sentence it's not exactly the same for the colon we'll get into that in a minute but for now if we were to use a semicolon we would have to have to complete ideas that could each stand alone independently you might have heard them called independent clauses it doesn't matter what name you go by as long as you understand that it's something that can stand alone and it's a complete sentence so how do we do this well we want to draw the vertical line in between where we see the punctuation changing so in our answer choices is between Messiah and whatever the other words are so we're gonna draw this vertical line here right after Messiah and we want to read the first part and ask ourselves is it complete or incomplete so it says audience is customarily stand for the Hallelujah Chorus of Handel's Messiah that's complete right that can stand alone but now also got the second part and ask yourself is that complete it is said that on one occasion the king entered the hall at that point in the work the audience's stood and audiences have done so since okay so that can also stand alone so now I've got two complete ideas and that means that we're going to need a punctuation that can stand in between those two you completed ideas well no change in the way it's written now there's nothing there we need something to separate those two ideas so we can get rid of choice F now choice G has something we've got a comma so there's a punctuation it tells us the comma usually is slowed down but in this case a comma alone can't separate you complete ideas that's gonna be called a comma splice you might have heard that term in your your literature class when you're writing an essay and your teacher said hey that's a comma splice what does that mean it means that you're using a comma to separate two complete ideas you can separate two you complete ideas if you have a comma with fanboys so comma plus fanboys which some of you may remember our for and nor but or yet so in choice G we don't have a fanboy so we can't use a comma to separate these two complete ideas so choice G is out now we have however comma however in choice H comma however it is set well for one we have a comma with all the fanboy however is not a fanboy and that's not gonna work right we don't even have to keep going we're not following the rules of punctuation and that leaves us with only choice J so let's just put it back in and make sure everything's okay when we put that semi-cool in there it's a semicolon separating two complete ideas and that's gonna work so that's our only answer choice our only punctuation and the answer here is given that works to make this sentence correctly written so let's take a look add another punctuation situation number 47 says when our answers were right we would scream with excitement and when the contestants were wrong we would moan with disappointment all right now we actually have a question after the written portion and it says which of the following alternatives to the underlined portion would not be acceptable now whenever you see not even though let's capitalize underline Circle it put a big star next to it because when we're doing multiple-choice generally we're looking for the correct answer the one that works so sometimes this sort of question throws us off because our brain starts thinking of the one that's gonna work and we forget that it's saying wait a second which is not acceptable so in this case the way that the text is it's correct is written and now we want to look for which one doesn't work and now looking what's changing our answer choices back again here we see comma we have a semicolon a period and then a comma so we can use that vertical line test again because we see punctuation changing in the middle of the sentence and when we go back to the text we can look here and it says excitment comma so we're gonna draw our vertical line after excitement and we see that word and I remember that's one of those fanboys I just mentioned on the previous question so if we see a fanboy it's not part of either half of the sentence so let's just cross it off and pretend it's not there and we want to ask yourself is the first part complete or incomplete so breaking it down again when our engines were right we would scream with excitement that's complete so now let's look at the next part when the contestants were wrong we would moan with disappointment and that's also complete so now we have two complete ideas so what we need is a punctuation that can separate to complete ideas what we don't want the one that would not be acceptable which would be our answer choice the correct answer here is the one that can be used to separate two complete ideas so looking here at our choices we have a excitment comma win well this is one of those comma splices that I was just talking about right we have a comma and there's no fanboy so that one doesn't seem to work but let's let's take a look at the other choices to make sure and now B says excitment semicolon well from the last question we know that a semicolon is great for separating two complete ideas and the wording is the same right we see some : winsome you can win so that means the rest of the sentence is exactly the same as written above so that checks out it's acceptable so we can cross that off cuz it's not the one that's not acceptable you see what they did there they made it so wordy and complicated and confusing so you need to just take your time and make sure running through all of the answer choices carefully now we have choice C and we've got a period well a lot of people are pretty strong with periods right we use a period at the end of a complete sentence and we already know you've got a complete idea and then another complete idea and the second one starts at the capital W so that's okay so in this case we can cross off Tracy because B and C are pretty much identical Noah semicolon is not exactly the same as a period but they serve the same function they both separate to complete ideas and now our last one here choice D excitement comma or guess what we've got a fanboy or is the own fanboys so we have a comma or and that's going to be okay because that can be used to separate two complete ideas so choice D just like C is acceptable and is therefore not the correct answer which means that a is the correct answer because using a common between the two complete ideas is not acceptable looking here at number one now we have Jonah the valedictorian of a senior class believes that only one factor contributed to his success in school his commitment to hard work okay what's changing in our answer choices again punctuation that's what we're doing tonight that's the theme and now we see another punctuation we see that colon that I'd mentioned so here's a good time to explain when do you use a colon and this in my own experience teaching and tutoring is one of the least understood rules out there what has to come before a colon what always always always have to come before a colon is very often not done correctly is a complete idea we always have to have a complete idea or a complete sentence before the colon so if I say the list is colon milk eggs bread and bread that's not the list is : because the list is is not a complete idea so if I'm gonna use that cool in that first part has to be complete remember that now what comes after it it may be complete or it might be incomplete so what does that mean well there are several things that can come after that complete idea and they have to be related to the first half of the sentence and the most common things that you're gonna see are gonna be some sort of list my list is short : let's write this my list is short now I can use the colon because I've got a complete sentence : milk and eggs okay let's preach on that this is a capital M here eret so that's one example we can have a list we might have a detail something that's detailing or elaborating upon the first part of the sentence and it might be some sort of explanation and I'm gonna run out of space here alright so in my example that I wrote down here it's not a complete sentence we could say like the previous one here it's slightly different with two complete ideas how there's a structure the position of there screaming with excitement versus moaning with disappointment now that's a slightly different use but you might see something like I'm so tired and then you might see after that : I was studying for the SAT all night I was studying for the SAT all night I say all capital letters all night now we see an example of a complete sentence and in another complete sentence and not : separating them okay so it's similar to a semicolon sometimes now getting back to the question we can use our vertical line test and we see the punctuation is changing after the word school so let's draw our line there and the first part of the sentence says jonah the valedictorian of his class believes that only one factor contributed to his success in school that can stand alone that's a complete idea now the next part as written says his commitment to hard work that's not a complete sentence there's no verb in there it's just commitment to hard work which is great but it can't stand alone as its own idea and we see a semicolon in choice a so a is out because semicolons only separate to complete ideas guess what B's not automatically out and here's why now and B we have that semicolon but make sure you be carefully because now it says and it was and it was and it was his commitment to hard work so it was its commitment to hard work well it was his commitment hard work we've got a verb and it seems like it might work so let's hang on to that and then look at our other two answer choices so choice C says school : and the rest of this sentence here is not underlined I'm underlining it but in the text it's not his commitment to hard work again we know that that's not a complete idea so this is expounding upon the first part of the sentence and that is using the : the dot dot not semicolon the : correctly so we can keep this one and then choice D again we have : now it says being being his commitment to hard work well even his commitment of hard work that's kind of awkward got that ing going on so between B C and D he's kind of funky we can get rid of that one but let's go back to be between B and C and it was well one thing that we're looking from the SAT is concise so based on that C is gonna be shorter more concise straight to the point so that's gonna be our correct answer there choice C nice sweet and simple and using the colon correctly so it's not going to be choice P and C is the correct one so that's a lot of information there to digest that colon has very commonly been misused for many many years and many people don't understand the rules so just write that down if you haven't already that you have to have that complete idea before a colon always and that what follows can be complete or incomplete so let's let's take a look at another question now if we jump to our answer choices we see again we have a colon over here and then we've got a period and a semicolon and an explanation point so what's changing our answer choices the punctuation let's go ahead and read the sentence and then we'll do our vertical line test so Coach K has led Duke to five and Cas basketball championships two in 1991 and 1992 one in 2001 one in 2010 and one in 2015 drawing up vertical lion right after championships right because that's where we see the punctuation changing first part of the sentence Coach K has led Duke to five NCAA basketball championships that's complete let's mark it up complete idea complete sentence it can stand alone now this next part qu in 1991 and 1992 one in 2001 one in 2010 and one in 2015 back in stand alone that's a list of things oh sorry that's not complete that is incomplete alright so that means that we do not want to semicolon right that semicolon our friend is not gonna work out here because that can only be used to separate the two complete ideas so looking here down our answer choices let's get rid of C because there's a semicolon and we can also get rid of B because there's a period which again has the same function as a semicolon now between a and D D has an explanation point which also comes at the end of a complete sentence so we could say couch K is led Duke to five NCAA basketball championships right and we have that excitement going with the explanation point but now if we look at the second part to a 1991-1992 da there's no verb that second part just can't sounds alone so it doesn't work and that means choice a is correct and this is an appropriate use of the Kulin following a complete sentence but preceding a list of things and in this case it's a list of years when this coach led the team to the championships so let's try another one now this is a big block of text here so let's look at our answer choice let's start there and the answer choices now are a little bit longer it's getting a little bit more complicated but we see that what's changing we have our punctuation is changing again here there is no punctuation at all in D and in the way that it's written originally we have a period and then a capital litter so let's go ahead and read the actual sentence which says although we think of this fill-ins a classic when it was released it represented an enormous departure from the prevailing standards for animation so we saw punctuation changing which means let's try that vertical line test and again we want to put it where the punctuation is changing so in this case it's gonna be after the word classic now the first part of the sentence says although we think of this film as a classic and it's like okay finish that but well we can't that's not a complete thought because of the word although so many times when we see a sentence beginning with words like although or until it'll make a sentence incomplete it can't stand alone so this first part let's mark it as incomplete now let's look at the second part when it was released it represented an enormous departure from the prevailing standards for animation well that can stand alone and notice that in your answer choices some of them have the word when and choice B only has the word it so you want to read very carefully make sure that you don't miss anything what we do know is we have an incomplete idea and a complete idea which means we don't want to use a period or a semicolon or a comma fanboy or anything that can come in between two complete ideas because of that incomplete idea so we can get rid of choice B right because that has our semicolon and we can also get rid of a choice a because that has a period so now between C and D what's the difference well C has some commas and D doesn't have any commas going on so we need to ask ourselves is there a reason to slow down these ideas well for one it's a really long sentence there's a lot of words going on there so let's see what happens if we read it without flowing done at all although we think of this one was the classic when it was released it represented an enormous departure from the prevailing standards for animation oh that was a mouthful so it feels like we should probably slow down somewhere and now when we look at choice C we have classic so the introductory clause would say although we think of this almost a classic that's a nice place to breather pause when it was released so we have another comma here after released it represented an enormous departure from the prevailing standards for animation that's very nice that that slows things down that when it was released part is all set by commas and that is gonna work out for us whereas D just doesn't have that comma it doesn't have any punctuation to slow us down and Paul's our ideas as we're going through all so you could get rid of this chunk here when it was released because that's being offset by commas and it would still be okay as written in the sentence we'd say although we think of this almost say it represented an enormous departure from the prevailing standards for animation so that's another common rule that I'm not going to get into tonight but it's unnecessary information so we can offset that by commas so those are all the reasons why choice C is the only answer Trace that works here so going to number seven now we see comma semicolon comma three commas in the semicolon so easier punctuation changing now let's take a look at the sentence it says just like the traffic sounds though the noise on the bus represents people working relaxing and living so if we were to do our vertical line tests on this one we would do it after lure people so let's go ahead and do that and see what happens just like the traffic sounds though the noise on the bus represents people let me complete it and now what comes after working relaxing and living definitely not complete that's incomplete so what are we gonna do with this one it's also a list of things people what are they doing they're working relaxing and living alright so we definitely want to get rid of them with a semicolon right because we we don't have to complete ideas so we can get rid of choice C now looking at a B and D they all have commas and we want to think about where should we put them well if we look even more closely choice he has another semicolon going on here after working well if we look at cut what comes after working is just relaxing and living not complete so he's got to be up and now we're down to two you've got a 50/50 shot here but let's read closely and see which the correct which will be the correct answer so people comma working or people no comma working well if we put a comma it would be represents people comma working comma relaxing comma and living so the list will be four things it would be people working relaxing and living but that seems kind of funny right because it's the people who are working relaxing and living so DS not going to be career because that would make people part of that list of things so the only one that works is gonna be a choice a people working relaxing and living and just one thing to point out you see the comma before the and and it's correct is written remember if it's not underlined so when you're doing things on the SAT if you have a list of three or more things you're always gonna put your comma before the word and and in some cases before the word or if there are three things in that list so next question here number eleven shortest answer choices going on here punctuation changing again so we want to go ahead and see what's going on let's read the question people watching is one of my favorite things to do I like listening even better alright so vertical line test let's give it a try draw that vertical line after the word do people watching is one of my favorite things to do complete idea let's mark that down I like listening even better okay also complete each of these ideas can stand alone what can we get rid of anything that does not separate you complete ideas so now we need our comma with a fanboy we need a semicolon or a period so let's take a look choice a it's just comma and that's our comma splice again we don't have a fanboy after that so that commas not gonna work in between to complete ideas now choice B do you common nevertheless again there's no punctuation to stop and put a full-stop in between those complete ideas there's no period there's no fanboy nevertheless is connecting them but it's not a proper fanboy so that doesn't work let's get rid of that and now we're down to the last two do common but and do comma however so in terms of transition they're both showing a opposite direction right but however I like going running but I'm really tired I could also say going running however I'm really tired so that's no it's not the word that we're looking at here we're looking at the function so remember if we have a comma and it's separating those two complete ideas it's got to have a fanboy and however again traitorix we saw those earlier however is not a fanboy so DS out and C is the only one that works okay so let's try it one more it's a lot of commas and semicolons and colons and lots of rules and you've got all summer to practice if you're taking the August 24th SCT you've got you've got some time so remember your rules write them down so our last question for tonight again punctuation changing and our answer choices and the question says it was a top priority for Jonah to do well in school by his love of friends family and sports were just as important but it sounds kind of funny I felt weird reading that to your and as you're skimming through some sentences in your book what are your test booklet when you're taking it you might be like huh it's totally possible so when you have a ha moment definitely read carefully don't want to magically cross it off you might want to go back and redo the second time but since we see a punctuation changing let's do our vertical line after the word school so it was a top priority for Jonah to do well in school that's a complete idea by his love of friends family and sports were just as important mmm again that sounds even weirder the second time especially when we read it alone ok well that's just funky and it can't stand alone but you also want to take a look here at your answer choices because this by Hayes is underlined which means it's not part of this stuff on the right so we want to look at what these words that are part of the answer choices are and remember the the word fanboy the worst han boy the fanboy words like but we don't count them as either half of the sentence so his love of friends family and sports we're just as important that will be complete right and now let's look at see same thing here's love love family friends and so on and the last one whereas whereas love of friends family something's missing there so it's not gonna be d so we can get rid of a and D at this point and now we're down to B and C so we know we can have a comma fanboys uprooting to complete ideas and like we said with the his here before love that second part is complete and it's also complete in choice C and we know a colon sometimes can separate to complete ideas so functionally we need to figure out which is the better choice let's go back and read the sentence again because we're gonna have to look at the context now it was a top priority for Jonah's G well in school his level of friends family and sports were just as important so we've got the word button one and no word but in the other and that's where it's really gonna come down to figuring out which is correct but it's one of those transition words that shows the opposite direction so do we see some sort of a contrast well we do cuz they're saying you're saying the sentence he wants to do well in school yet but however he also found his friends family and sports important so the answer for this is gonna be choice e because it's showing a contrast well one thing it's important to do well in school he also has this love for friends family in sports so it's very important so C's not correct because when we had that : remember the idea of an explanation saying that his love of friends family in sports we're just as important isn't explaining that schools a top priority so it's not quite the right relationship there so although function wise the colon works between the two complete ideas we need to go a little bit deeper so some of the questions are trickier and remember there's no order of difficulty on the writing and language section on the SAT so this is the number two it could be the hardest question on the entire test we we can't we can't say the only section that does have an order of difficulty on the SAT is the math section alright so lots of rules to cover tonight hopefully you've learned a little bit more you have more clarification on how to use that semicolon and : and even the comma we are going to be taking a break from SAT night live for the summer but don't worry we'll be back in September you don't have to take a break from your test prep head over to Princeton review.com to check out our courses and tutoring selections if you happen to be in New York City and maybe you have a younger sibling prepping for the SH SAT definitely take a look at our courses that we're gonna be offering all over New York City starting next month alright guys that's all for now happy studying good luck for all of you taking the August SAT and I'll see you all in September

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