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Grammar Tip of the Week!. Week Five Colons (from Strunk and White’s Elements of Style ). When Should a Writer Use a Colon ?. Use a colon (:) after an independent clause to introduce: a list of particulars, an appositive (provides info about a noun), An amplification of an idea, or

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Grammar tip of the week

Grammar Tip of the Week!

Week Five

Colons

(from Strunk and White’s Elements of Style)


When should a writer use a colon
When Should a Writer Use a Colon?

  • Use a colon (:) after an independent clause to introduce:

    • a list of particulars,

    • an appositive (provides info about a noun),

    • An amplification of an idea, or

    • An illustrative quotation

  • A colon tells the reader that what follows is closely related to the preceding clause.

  • The colon has moreeffect than the comma, less power to separate than the semicolon, and more formality than the dash.


Colons
Colons

  • A colon follows an independent clause and should not separate a verb from its complement or a preposition from its object.

    • WRONG: Your dedicated whittler requires: a knife, a piece of wood, and a back porch.

    • CORRECT: Your dedicated whittler requires three props: a knife, a piece of wood, and a back porch.


Colons1
Colons

  • A writer may join two independent clauses with a colon ONLY IF the second clause interprets or amplifies the first clause.

    • CORRECT: But even so, there was a directness and dispatch about animal burial: there was no stopover in the undertaker’s foul parlor, no wreath or spray.

    • ALSO CORRECT: But even so, there was a directness and dispatch about animal burial; there was no stopover in the undertaker’s foul parlor, no wreath or spray.


Colons and quotations
Colons and Quotations

  • A colon may introduce a quotation that supports or contributes to the preceding clause.

    • CORRECT: The squalor of the streets reminded him of a line from Oscar Wilde: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”


Other uses for the colon
Other Uses for the Colon

  • The colon also has certain functions of form:

    • The salutation of a formal letter,

    • To separate hour and minute in a notation of time,

    • To separate the title of a work from its subtitle,

    • To separate a Bible chapter from a verse

  • Examples:

    • Dear Mr. Montague:

    • An Image of Africa: Racism in Heart of Darkness

    • The train departs at 10:48 p.m.

    • John 3:16


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