“Punctuation,” who needs it? The Colon and Semicolon.

The Colon.

The colon expands on the sentence that precedes it, often introducing a list that demonstrates or elaborates whatever was previously stated.

Examples.

  • There are many reasons for poor written communication: lack of planning, poor grammar, misuse of punctuation marks, and insufficient vocabulary.
  • He collected a strange assortment of items: bird’s eggs, stamps, bottle tops, string, and buttons.
  • Peter had an eclectic taste in music: latin, jazz, country and western, pop, blues, and classical.
  • He had just one fault: an enormous ego.

colon

The colon is also used to divide the hour from the minutes in writing a time in English.

Examples.

  • 4:15 = “four fifteen”
  • 6:45 = “six fourty-five”

colon 2

The Semicolon.

The semicolon is somewhere between a full stop and a comma. Semicolons can be used in English to join phrases and sentences that are thematically linked without having to use a conjunction. Semicolons can also be used instead of commas to separate the items in a list when the items themselves already contain commas.

dinosaurs semi

Examples

  • I like your brother; he’s a good friend.
  • Many great leaders, Churchill, leader of Britain during the Second World War; Alexander, the great Emperor and general; and Napolean, the brilliant French general, had strong characters, which were useful when their countries were at war but which did not serve them well in times of peace.

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