Creating Sentences With Semicolons, Colons, and Dashes

A Sentence Imitation Exercise

Colon and semicolon on typewriter
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This sentence-imitation exercise will give you practice in applying our guidelines for using Semicolons, Colons, and Dashes.


Use each of the five sentences below as the model for a new sentence of your own. Your new sentence should follow the guidelines in parenthesis and use the same punctuation contained in the model.

Example: There are three ingredients in the good life: learning, earning, and yearning.

(Guideline: Use a colon to set off a summary or a series after a complete main clause.)
Sample sentences:
a) I introduced my three best friends: Winken, Blinken, and Nod.
b) Merdine assigned chores to the children: wash the dog, sweep the porch, empty the litter box, and clean the garage.

Model 1: The days were hot and dry; the nights were extremely cold.
(Guideline: Use a semicolon to separate two main clauses not joined by a coordinating conjunction.)

Model 2: We have visited New York City several times; however, we have never seen the Statue of Liberty.
(Guideline: Use a semicolon to separate main clauses joined by a conjunctive adverb, such as however, consequently, otherwise, moreover, or nevertheless.)

Model 3: I divide all readers into two classes: those who read to remember and those who read to forget.
(Guideline: Use a colon to set off a summary or a series after a complete main clause.)

Model 4: Danny could play the one musical instrument that no one wanted to listen to--the bagpipes.
(Guideline: Use a dash to set off a short summary after a complete main clause.)

Model 5: Our three children--Moe, Larry, and Curly--have decided to enter show business.
(Guideline: For the sake of clarity, use a pair of dashes in place of a pair of commas to set off words, phrases, or clauses that interrupt a sentence with additional--but not essential--information.)