Punctuation Rules: The Proper Use of Colons

What is Colon?

A colon (:) can be used to introduce a quotation, a list of items, or an explanation of the clause that precedes it. Don’t confuse colon with a semicolon because they both are not used interchangeably. If you don't quite understand about semicolon, you can visit the proper use of semicolon to learn more about it. Well, let's back again to colon. If you’re wondering of how to use a colon correctly, we’re going to discuss the proper use of colon below.

how to use a colon in a sentence

How to use a colon in a sentence? via www.freepik.com

The Proper Use of a Colon

Using a colon in a proper way can make your writing looks better and more satisfying. For that reason, we will provide about the several points that you need to know of how the proper use of colon.

1. Colon as a conjunction

A colon is often used as a conjunction to connect two clauses when the second clause explains on ideas that introduced by the first clause.

  • Simon had a goal: being the manager before he turned twenty-five.
  • There’s one advice that I always heed: Be Honest with everyone you love.

In the second example, you could use a period or a semicolon in place of the colon. However, the period would divide the sentence into two parts, making a complete break between the related clauses. On the other hand, a semicolon would suggest a connection between them but wouldn’t clearly communicate how they are related. Only with a colon, the thought delivered in the first clause can be completed by the second.

If you find the explanatory clause is lengthy, then a colon is almost always the better choice.

  • Mrs. Selena made two demands of her ninth-grade students: She wanted them to study at least three hours every night, submit the assignments on time, and ask question about any material they didn’t understand.

Don’t capitalize every first word following a colon. You can capitalize it only if it begins a complete sentence or is a proper noun.

  • I packed only the basic stuff: a toothbrush, soap, and some underwear.
  • There are only three things that John despises: stupidity, dishonesty, and cruelty.
  • Put the following items in the cart: butter, flour, sugar, and milk.
  • Popular tourist attraction in Indonesia includes these cities: Bali, Lombok, Jakarta, and Yogyakarta.
  • Explain me one thing: How do you expect me to handle this job?
  • Our options are clear: We must either raise the prices or sell more units.

As a colon stand in for the words "that is" or "namely", avoid using colon and that is or namely on the same time.

  • Martin had only one thing in mind: that is, to pass the final exam. (incorrect)
  • Martin had only one thing in mind; that is, to pass the final exam. (correct)
  • Martin had only one thing in mind: to pass the final exam. (correct)

2. Colon with list

A colon should follow a complete sentence that introduces a list of things (noun).

• Make sure you bring the following to class tomorrow: a pencil, notebook, and eraser. • We may be required to bring camping equipment: a portable stove, pan, tent, sleeping bags, utensils, and warm clothes. • The company needs an assistant who can do the following tasks: input data, arrange schedule, write report, and complete tax form.

When the items in a list are fragmented into one point per line, following a colon, capitalization and ending punctuation are both optional if each point contains a single word or phrase that preceded by a number, letter, or bullet point. If each point of the list is a complete sentence, capitalize the first word and put appropriate ending punctuation. So, just be consistent.

    Put the following items in the cart:
  • butter
  • flour
  • sugar
  • milk

    Please respect by following these library rules:
  • 1. Do not bring food.
  • 2. Switch your mobile phones to 'silent' mode.
  • 3. Pick up your phone call outside.

Avoid using a colon if the items in the list are objects of a verb or a preposition.

  • To be a great football player, you need: talent, strength, dexterity, and determination. (incorrect)
  • To be a great football player, you need talent, strength, dexterity, and determination. (correct)

  • I want: a carton of milk, a pack of cheese, and some chocolate bars. (incorrect)
  • I want a carton of milk, a pack of cheese, and some chocolate bars. (correct)
  • Here is the list of things I want: a carton of milk, a pack of cheese, and some chocolate bars. (correct)

  • Most countries prohibit smoking in: restaurant, hospital, and school. (incorrect)
  • Most countries prohibit smoking in restaurant, hospital, and school. (correct)
  • Most countries prohibit smoking in the following public places: restaurant, hospital, and school. (correct)

  • The protesters strongly condemned violence in: movies, commercials, and television shows. (incorrect)
  • The protesters strongly condemned violence in: movies, commercials, and television shows. (correct)

A colon is also unnecessary if the list is introduced by "for example", "for instance", or "such as".

  • The food court provides a wide range of fast foods such as: fried chicken, French fries, pizza, and burger. (incorrect)
  • The food court provides a wide range of fast foods such as fried chicken, French fries, pizza, and burger. (correct)

3. Colons with other punctuation

If a quoted mark or parenthetical phrase precedes a colon, place the colon after the closing quotation mark or parenthesis.

  • Bayern Munich fans welcomed their heroes for securing their first "treble honors": German Cup, Bundesliga and Champions League trophy.
  • Mr. Patrick asked the class to bring the following on their "festive outing": a pencil, a notebook, and warm clothes.
  • There’s one thing Ryan didn’t like about West Java (in Bogor): It always seemed to rain with thunder and lightning.

In the same way, place a colon following a question after the question mark.

  • What am I supposed to do?: It was a question she asked when she first came here.

If a colon comes after an abbreviation, remove the period after the abbreviation.

  • Bella wanted more than a Ph.D: She wanted an excellent career.

4. Colon with quotation

A colon is often used in place of a comma after introduction to a long quotation or typically contains two or more sentences.

  • Oscar Wilde once said: "A man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth."
  • My mom often said to me: "Be honest. Love each one. Always show up on time."

If a block quotation is introduced by a sentence fragment, a colon should be used before it.

    In act II, scene 2, Caesar declares:
    Cowards die many times before their deaths;
    The valiant never taste of death but once.

If the introduction is a complete sentence, you can use either a colon or a period. However, if the words as follows or the following are part of the introduction, a colon should always be used.

  • The note read as follows: "The office will be closed on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday morning."

Various uses of colon

Besides the several points of the proper use of colon that we’ve explained above, it also has other uses to separate the following elements:

    the hour and minutes in a time of day
  • The meeting starts at 7:35 p.m. this morning.

  • the chapter and verse of a passage from the holy books such as Bible and Qur’an
  • John 3:16
  • Surah Al-Ahzab [33:70]

  • the title and subtitle of a book, a painting, a movie, or another creative work
  • Enemies: A Love Story
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron

  • the speaker and the words spoken in a line of dialogue
  • David: Are you listening to me? We have no choice.

  • the two quantities in a ratio
  • The ratio of nursing staff to doctors in this hospital is 2:1.

  • the salutation and the body of a letter. You can use a colon rather than a comma to follow the salutation of a formal letter such as in a business letter. In more informal correspondence, you can use a comma after the salutation.
      Dear Mr. Andrew:
      It has come to my attention that …

Well, that’s all our explanation about the proper use of colon that might aid you to achieve better writing skill. If you’re looking for another punctuation rules, you can click on the related label or category that we’ve provided. You can also find more about English lessons about grammar, vocabulary, or text genre on ContohText’s index page.

Reference:
“Colons.” Microsoft Student 2009. DVD. Redmond, WA, USA: Microsoft Corporation, 2008.
In text: (“Colons”)

Punctuation Rules: The Proper Use of Colons Punctuation Rules: The Proper Use of Colons Reviewed by ContohText on 1/01/2019 Rating: 5

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.