Colon in punctuation mark

The colon is a punctuation mark: a full stop (period) used before a list or an explanation. The standard English name of the mark, colon (plural col·ons), is derived from the French word for “limb” and ultimately derives from Greek κόλον kólon, meaning “limb of the body.”

In typography, the colon is used as the usual symbol for lists and citations and to separate hours from minutes in time-of-day expressions or groups of numbers in numerals.

It is one of the most versatile punctuation marks. You can use it in the middle of a sentence and at the end of one. You can also use it to introduce lists or quotations or make a more emphatic statement.

It is also used to represent even longer pause than the semi colon. It is used to introduce a quotation and an explanation of some fact which has been mentioned before.

What is Punctuation?

Punctuation is the art of rightly putting pauses, points and stops in writing in order to make the sense clear and comprehensible.

Use of Colon (:)

The colon is used between statements of sentences grammatically independent but closely related in sense.

Rules to use Colon in Writing:

The colon is used to represent even longer pause than the semi colon.

  1. The colon is used to introduce a quotation.

Bacon says: “Reading makes a full man, writing an exact man, speaking a ready man”.
Shakespeare says: “Frailty, thy name is woman”.

  1. The colon is placed before a list that appears at the end of a sentence.

i. Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies are: Hamlet, King Lear, Othello and Macbeth.
ii. Please remember to bring three articles: a combg, a razor and a dozen of eggs.

  1. The colon can be used instead of “but”, “then”, “so”, “because” etc.

i. I refused the offer because I do not wish to go there.
I refused the offer; I do not wish to go there.

ii. Speech is silver but silence is gold.

Speech is silver; but silence is gold.

  1. The colon is used to introduce an explanation of some fact which has been mentioned before.

i. No man should be too sure: the wisest commit mistakes.
ii. I cannot live in the house: it is damp.

  1. The colon is used between statements of sentences grammatically independent but closely related in sense.

i. To err is human: to forgive, divine.
ii. Speech is silver: silence is gold.

  1. The colon is used to introduce some example.
    i. The subject generally comes before the verb: “Joe read his books”.
    ii. The adjective generally precedes the noun: “He saw a black horse”.
  2. The colon is used to separate hours from minutes when the time of day is shown in numerals.

9:30 7:00 12:15

  1. The colon is used to indicate shares or proportions (ratios).

i. Combine the three chemicals in a 3:5:1 ratio.
ii. Elder brother: 5 parts; younger brother; 4 parts; the youngest brother: 3 parts; the sisters; 2 parts.

  1. The colon is not followed by a capital letter except a quotation is given.

i. He advised we should try our luck somewhere else.

  1. The colon is used to mark off the name of an author from the name of book he has written.

Difference between Semi Colon Vs. Colon

The semi colon is a longer pause than the comma. The semi colon is used in a sentence which is complete but does not have any conjunction. For example, All men were against him; nevertheless he preserved.

The colon is used to represent even longer pause than the semi colon. It is used to introduce a quotation and an explanation of some fact which has been mentioned before. For example,

The subject generally comes before the verb: “Joe read his books”.

Combine the three chemicals in a 4:6:2 ratio.

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