Colons Copy

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Click on the Play button to hear a message from Anne.

The colon is two dots, one above the other.

The colon appears immediately after the end of the previous word with a single space to follow.

What does a colon mean?

The colon means ‘that is to say’ or ‘here’s what I mean’ and what follows must explain / illustrate / expand / paraphrase what came before.

    • For a vegetarian stir-fry, collect these ingredients: bean sprouts, carrots, mushrooms, red capsicum, garlic and parsley.
    • She wrote in her first chapter: Harry knew what was to come.

Using colons in a list stem

Colons can be used for the stem introducing a bullet list.

As proof of identity, please bring any two of the following:

    • Your passport
    • Your driving licence
    • A recent utility bill

However, the sense is maintained if you use a full point instead.

We look at options for lists in a later lesson.

Avoiding using colons

Colons are rarely needed in a short sentence, and you can avoid colons altogether if the construction is made simple enough.

So, if a sentence is complicated, consider simplifying it. Break long sentences into shorter ones.

Non-grammatical uses of colons

Colons might also be used for non-grammatical uses.

Non-grammatical use

Example

24-hour clock time

14:45

Ratios

1:3

Biblical references

Genesis 2:14

Correspondence

cc: James Bond