Practice Activities: Commas, Semicolons, and Colons

Commas and Semicolon

Read the following sentences. Determine if the empty spaces need a semicolon, a comma, or no punctuation. Type your answers in the text frame below:

Five sea tulips; these are a light pink/purple.

Sea Tulips

Pyura spinifera __ commonly called the sea tulip __ is a species of ascidian that lives in coastal waters at depths of up to 260 feet. As with almost all other ascidians __ sea tulips are filter feeders. Its name comes from the organism’s appearance __ it looks like a knobby “bulb” or flower attached to a long stalk. Sea tulips come in a variety of colors, including white, pink, yellow, orange, and purple __ note that __ the coloration of sea tulips depends upon their association with a symbiotic sponge that covers their surface.

You may spot this in ocean waters near Sydney __ Australia __ Central Coast __ Australia __ and Newcastle__ Australia.

Semicolons and Colons

Are the semicolons and colons used correctly in the following sentences? Write your corrections and comments in the text frame below. The sentences have been numbered to aid in your comments.

Main Antikythera mechanism fragment. The mechanism consists of a complex system of 30 wheels and plates with inscriptions relating to signs of the zodiac, months, eclipses and pan-Hellenic games.(1) The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient analogue computer likely used for several purposes including: predicting astronomical positions and eclipses and calculating Olympiads: the cycles of the ancient Olympic Games. (2) The device is a complex clockwork mechanism composed of at least 30 meshing bronze gears. (3) Its remains were found as one lump; it was recovered from a shipwreck, and the device was originally housed in a wooden box. (4) This lump was later separated into 82 separate fragments after extensive conservation work.

(5) The artifact was recovered probably in July 1901 from the Antikythera shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera. (6) Believed to have been designed and constructed by Greek scientists; the instrument has recently been dated to 205 BC. (7) After the knowledge of this technology was lost at some point in antiquity, technological artifacts approaching its complexity and workmanship did not appear again until the development of mechanical astronomical clocks in Europe in the fourteenth century.

(8) All known fragments of the Antikythera mechanism are kept at the National Archaeological Museum, Athens.


Is the colon used correctly in the following sentences? If not, write the corrected sentence in the text frame below.

  1. There are three methods of attracting earthworms from the ground: worm charming, worm grunting, and worm fiddling.
  2. The activity can be performed: to collect bait for fishing or as a competitive sport.
  3. As a skill and profession worm charming is now very rare: with the art being passed through generations to ensure that it survives.
  4. In most competitions, the collector of the most worms in a set time is declared as the winner: they usually have a zone in which to perform their charming, measuring three yards square.
  5. The activity is known by several different names and the apparatus and techniques vary significantly: (1) Most worm charming methods involve vibrating the soil, which encourages the worms to the surface, (2) Worm grunting generally refers to the use of a “stob,” a wooden stake that is driven into the ground, and a rooping iron, which is used to rub the stob, (3) Worm fiddling also uses a wooden stake but utilizes a dulled saw which is dragged along its top.