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Colons

Explaining or illustrating

semicolon
 

 

Colon vs. Semicolon

COLON

semicolonUse a colon to join an independent clause to a word, phrase or clause with the idea that the second element is to explain or illustrate the idea of first clause.  

EXPLANATION /CLARIFICATION

He became a veterinarian: he couldn't stand to see animals suffer.   "because"

He set up an animal clinic: there were none in his city.  "because"

He offered some free services: there were many people who couldn't pay.   "because"

He hired some assistants: veterinary students and others people with training.  "that is" (details)

He opened two more clinics: one north of the city and another in the poorest section of the city. "that is"

Local business supported him: they gave him supplies and money. "that is"  

SEMICOLON

semicolonUse a semicolon to relate the idea of one clause to another. No conjunction is used; the relationship is understood from the context.  In some sentences, either a colon or a semicolon can be used.

RELATED IDEA  (UNDERSTOOD)

He became a veterinarian; he couldn't stand to see animals suffer. (reason)

He set up an animal clinic; he rescued dogs, cats and other small animals / we were glad to have it. (addition)

He offered some free services; he required payment for other services. (contrast)

He hired some assistants: he could take in more sick animals. (purpose)

He opened two more clinics; he barely had enough money for one clinic. (contrary outcome)

Local business supported him; they were able to keep all three clinics open. (result)

 

can't stand (expression) – not like or tolerate

Resources:  (CMOS 6.63) (GREGG 189)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introductory Phrases

Before a series of items in a list

 

 

 

Introductory Phrase or Clause Followed by Colon

WITHIN TEXT

After an introductory sentence, a colon is placed before a list of items.  Word or phrase items are separated with commas; longer phrase or clause items are separated with semicolons.  An in-text list  is used when the list is limited; or if wanting to keep the overall format of the document.   (See Bulleted Lists)

"AS FOLLOWS" W/ WORDS OR SHORT PHRASES

My duties at Pet Haven were: checking in, scheduling, labeling , cleaning up, and billing.

My duties at Pet Haven were as follows: checking in, scheduling, labeling , cleaning up, and billing.

My duties at Pet Haven were, for examplechecking in, scheduling, labeling, cleaning up, etc.
My duties at Pet Haven were, namelychecking in, scheduling, etc.

*Our service includes: excellent animal care (One item is not a list-worthy!)

"AS FOLLOWS" W/ LONGER PHRASES & CLAUSES

Our responsibilities included a variety of taskschecking in pet patients, scheduling appointments, labeling medications, cleaning up messes, and billing clients.

*Some questions are: What should I feed my dog? Does my dog need a special diet?  How can I stop my dog from barking?

(The introductory sentence should form a complete sentence with the items in the list. However, since the items in the list are complete sentences, the introductory statement should also be worded to be a complete sentence.)

The questions are these: How do you…
The questions are the following: How do you…
Here are the questions:
How do you…  

The president said: "Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country." 

(Use a colon if the quote is independent, not part of the introductory statement.)

The president said these unforgettable words: "Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country." 

(A colon is used after an independent clause of introduction.)

SEPARATED FROM TEXT – BULLETED LIST

A list begins with an introductory phrase or clause followed by a colon. Optionally, initial articles (a, an, the) are omitted from list items. (Also, note exception below using a period after the intro.) Make sure that each list item reads grammatically with the introductory phrase or clause. If a list has fewer than three items, use a sentence instead of a list.

WORDS & SHORT PHRASES

My duties at Pet Haven included:    (phrase)

  • checking in
  • scheduling
  • labeling
  • cleaning up
  • billing
LONGER PHRASES & CLAUSES

Our responsibilities included a variety of tasks:  (independent clause )

  • scheduling appointments
  • maintaining records for each animal
  • packaging and labeling medications
  • cleaning up cages and examination rooms
  • billing patients
  • partnering with local companies for financial assistance

Our responsibilities included a variety of tasks.

  • We schedule appointments.
  • We maintain records for each animal.
  • We package and label medications.
  • We clean up cages and office rooms.
  • We bill patients.
  • We partner with local companies for financial assistance
 

haven (n.) – a place where people or animals can live peacefully or go to in order to be safe
*Highlighted words or phrases are examples of incorrect usage.

Also see For example, Bulleted Lists.

(CMOS 6.127- 6.130)  (GREGG 189) (APA 3.04)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time and Proportions

Relating parts of numbers

 

 

Time & Proportions

TIME — HOURS: MINUTES

Use a colon between the hour and minutes of a numerical time expression.

We had to wake up 7:45 a.m.

They called at 3:00 AM !

PROPORTIONS — X PARTS: Y PARTS

Use a period to separate two independent clauses into different sentences when the second clause is loosely (less) related to the previous clause, or it requires more emphasis.

To make a simple syrup, add sugar and water in a ratio of 2:1 (2 parts sugar: 1 part water). 

Mix the insecticide with water in a ratio of 1:8 (1 part insecticide: 8 parts water).
 

 

Periods with Numbers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mail & Books

References

 

 

 

LETTERS & PARCELS

A colon is placed before a name or address line on a postal envelope or parcel, within a book, journal or bibilical citation.

To Whom it May Concern:  /  Ladies and Gentlemen:  / Dear Manager:

Attention:  Tom Tzonga (attention – redirect to this person)

Re: Introducing a new product  (regarding, reply)

Enclosures: resume, references, check  (items included with a letter or application)

PS: Don't forget the key. (post script)

Bill to: / Ship to:

Hicks. "Effectiveness of Screaming."The Journal of Hysteria 288.11 (2002): 1373-81. Print.

Place a colon after the publishing date in a journal citation.

Hitchcock, Alfred. Alfred Hitchcock's Ghostly Gallery . New York: Random House, 1962. Print.

Place a colon after the city of the publisher in a book citation.

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. — Psalms 37:4 (chapter – verse)

E-MAIL

A colon is placed after lables for address, copies, and subject in an email.  The labels are placed before a text entry box.

Subject:  Dog Collar

Cc:  Joe Doe / Bcc:  Jane Doe

Re: A  new pet product  /  Fwd: Check this out

To:  From:   janedoe@att.com

http://www.URL.com

Date:  1/1/2012

 

 

 

 

Also see the use of colons in book, journal, and in-text citations Citing Sources .

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capitalization

After a colon

 

 

 

LOWERCASE UPPERCASE

A lowercase letter is used after the colon if it is followed by a word or phrase, or clause that explains or illustrates. 

An uppercase letter is used after the colon if the word is a proper noun, a sentence presented as a formal rule, or a series (list) of independent clauses.

WORD OR PHRASE PROPER NOUN, ADJECTIVE or I

Two things are required in the city: a good pair of shoes and an umbrella.

Two things are required in the city: take a good pair of walking shoes and an umbrella.

 

 

Two things are required in the city: Nikes and an umbrella.  (proper noun – name of brand)

Everyone has to take these courses: English, math, and statistics. (proper adjective)

I want to be well-prepared for class: I read the textbook before the course begins.

 

  INTRODUCTIONS to RULES
 

Let me say this:  Healthcare should be available to everyone in the country.
This is what you need to remember:  The customer is always right.

Remember: Turn off all lights before you leave the facility.
Note: All sales are final.

  

  TWO OR MORE SENTENCES

 

Two important ideas come to mind: First, the product must be easy to use.  Second, the product must be sleek. 

 (or   Two important ideas come to mind: first, the product must be easy to use; second, the product must be sleek.  )

 

  TESTIMONY, TRANSCRIPTS, DIALOG
 

SMITH: When did you first meet Mr. Lee?

JONES: It was on New Years Eve of last year.

SMITH: Was it before or after midnight?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

 

 

Error and Solution

ERROR

She goes: I don't want to.  And he goes: OK.

He turned down the chocolate chip cookie: He doesn't like chocolate.

My agreement with him is simple: I cook dinner and he washes the dishes.

SOLUTION

She says, "I don't want to," and he says, "OK."

A colon is not used for quoting speech (unless it is in a dialog or transcript, or the quote is part of an explanation clause .)

He turned down the chocolate chip cookie: he doesn't like chocolate.

Use lowercase at the beginning of the clause after a colon.

My agreement with him is simpleI cook dinner and he washes the dishes.

Using a dash instead of a colon is slightly less formal.

 

turn down (v.) – decline, not accept

 

 

 

 

 

 

Punctuation Notes

Colons

 

 

 

BRIEF MENTION DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Also see:

AP Style Book 325 "Punctuation:colon"

APA  4.05 "Colon"

Fowler 158 "Colon"

MLA 3.2.4 "Colons"

Swan 474 "Punctuation (2) colon",  240. 2.i "in news headlines"

Hyphens in the Gregg Reference Manual
"Some compound words are written as solid words, some are written as separate words, and some are hyphenated. As in other areas of style, authorities do not agree on the rules.…The only a complete guide is an up-to-date dictionary…

Between Independent Clauses  (Sabin 187He thinks he is Superman: he has no sense of reality.
Before Lists and Enumerations (Sabin 188) These names were selected: Ivy, Izzy, Etty and Pearl
Before Anticipatory Expressions (Sabin 189–91)  Attention
In Expressions of Time and Proportions (Sabin 192) 12:00 p.m.
In Ratios (Sabin 193) 2:3
In Business Documents (Sabin 194)   Attention:
In Reference to Books (Sabin 195) The New Age Parent: Raising a Confident Child
Capitalization After a Colon (Sabin 196–199)   Two documents arrived: the letter and the contract.

 

Hyphens and Dashes in the Chicago Manual of Style 6.63–69.

Introduces an element or a series of elements illustrating or amplifying what has preceded the colon  (6.63)
Lowercase of capital after a colon? (6.64) When a colon is used within a sentence…the first word following the colon is lowercased unless it is a proper name.   He studies two subjects: chemistry and algebra.  He studies two subjects: English and Chinese.

When a colon introduces two or more sentences, or when it introduces a speech in dialogue or an extract, the first work following it is capitalized.

She didn't know what to do: Should she go back? Or should she run away?

 

Style Manual Abbreviations: AP (Associated Press), APA (American Psychological Association), CMOS (Chicago Manual of Style), GREGG (Gregg Reference Manual); MLA (Modern Language Association)

 

 

Resources 

 

Style Manual Abbreviations (used in this website)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Returns and Refunds

package return
 

 

Read for Errors

To return an item you have purchased in the last 30 days, you will need to submit three things—the store receipt, the form with your reason for returning it, and the item.

The item will need to be returned in sale-able condition— not worn, not soiled and with tags attached.

The law states — "A consumer is entitled to full amount of purchase if the item is returned in good condition within the specified time stated on the sales receipt."

Store policy states the following— Undergarments and swimsuits may not be returned.

Ship to—100 Main Street, Los Angeles, CA.  Attention—Returns Department, Floor 5.

receipt (n.) – a piece of paper that you are given which shows that you have paid for something

sale-able (adj.) – good condition for selling or capable of being sold (business / commerce)

soiled (adj.) – dirty, unclean

tags (n.) – a small piece of paper, plastic etc attached to something to show what it is, what it costs, what it is made of, etc.

undergarments (n) – intimate clothing worn next to the body; underwear

 

 

 

 

Replace the dashes with more formal punctuation.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check 1-10" button at the bottom, or click the "Check" button to the left  as you go.

 

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Practice 2

Rules for Returning an Item

Return policy
 

 

Correct or Incorrect?

 

  1. Read each sentence and decide if it is punctuated correctly.  Select your response.
  2. Read the feedback and compare your response to the answer.

 

6.
Stores need strict rules for making returns: consumers abuse them.

   

7.
A store refund may be, for example: a cash refund, a store credit, or a gift card.

   

8.
A store may charge a restocking fee: (1) If the item is removed from plastic wrapping, (2) If the box is torn, (3) If tags or labels have been removed from the item.

   

9.
If a store's policy differs from the state-wide 7-day policy, then the store must: place a written notice about their policies, in language that consumers can understand, so that it can be easily seen and read.

   

10.
California law is very exact about posting store policy: The policy must be displayed either at each entrance to the store, at each cash register and sales counter, on tags attached to each item, or on the company's order forms, if any.

   

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 3

Crazy Customers

Tag tucked in dress
 

 

Read for Errors

Most customers occasionally have to return an item: a jacket too small, some socks too bright, a scarf from Aunt Martha, but some customers return things all the time.

Some customers, called "serial returners", are constantly returning something: they buy it, they wear it, they return it.

One woman returned an evening dress with a number of telltale signs: Lipstick on the collar. Deodorant marks around the arms. The tag tucked inside the sleeve.

I have something to say to these customers: "If you are going to wear it, don't return it!"

 

One woman came in and returned a dress because it didn't go with her makeup. The clerk suggested: " You could change your makeup."

The lady did not return: she took her business elsewhere.

Clerks see a variety of returned items: used stockings, worn out shoes, unwanted gifts from the previous season, and even a diamond ring that wasn't shiny enough.

Managers of stores want customers to have the opportunity to return items bought in err: but they do not want people to take advantage of their policy.

Abusing return policy results in loss: Loss of merchandise. Loss of staff time. Loss of goodwill.

in err – by mistake

serial (adj.) – in a series, one thing happens after another, or something happens repeatedly

take advantage of (expression) – use a system or someone for personal gain

telltale – signs that reveal that something happened

 

 

 

 

Edit for errors.

  1. Edit the sentence(s) in the text box.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.
11.
Most customers occasionally have to return an item: a jacket too small, some socks too bright, a scarf from Aunt Martha, but some customers return things all the time.


12.
Some customers, called "serial returners", are constantly returning something: they buy it, they wear it, they return it.


13.
One woman returned an evening dress with a number of telltale signs: Lipstick on the collar. Deodorant marks around the arms. The tag tucked inside the sleeve.


14.
I have something to say to these customers: "If you are going to wear it, don't return it!"


15.
One woman came in and returned a dress because it didn't go with her makeup. The clerk suggested: " You could change your makeup."


16.
She was not amused: and she reported the comment to the manager.


17.
The lady did not return: she took her business elsewhere.


18.
Clerks see a variety of returned items: used stockings, worn out shoes, unwanted gifts from the previous season, and even a diamond ring that wasn't shiny enough.


19.
Managers of stores want customers to have the opportunity to return items bought in err: but they do not want people to take advantage of their policy.


20.
Abusing return policy results in loss: Loss of merchandise, Loss of staff time, and Loss of goodwill.