colon (:)
Definition - A punctuation mark (:) that is normally used to indicate a pause greater than a semicolon, but less than a period.

Notes:
1. Purportedly, it was invented by Aristophanes of Byzantium.

Usage:

1. Use colons to join two independent clauses when you want to emphasize the second clause.

I am a housewife: I am alone.

2. Use a colon after an independent clause that is followed by a list.

I went to the market to buy a few necessities: cigarettes, coffee, sugar, and milk.

3. Use a colon to introduce explanatory information.

I'm bad: I smoke, drink, and cuss.

4. Use a colon after an independent clause that is followed by quote. The quote should begin with a capital letter.

Whitehead said this about writing style: "Style is the ultimate morality of the mind."

5. Use a colon after an independent clause that is followed by a directly related idea.

I know the perfect woman for the job: Carol.

6. Use colons to separate hours and minutes.

2:30 AM

7. Use colons to separate chapters and verses in Biblical references.

Mark 1:6

8. Use colons to terminate business letter greetings.

To Whom It May Concern:

9. Use colons to designate speakers either in a play or in court testimony.

Mom: Why didn't you close the door?
Teenaged son: Am I supposed to close doors?


10. If a brief introductory term precedes the colon and the clause following the colon presents the main information, start the latter with a capital letter.

Remember: Don't eat yellow snow.

11. Do not place a colon between a verb and its objects.

His buddy gave him: a hammer, a nail, and a bandage. (bad)
His buddy gave him a hammer, a nail, and a bandage. (good)

12. Do not place a colon between a verb and its subject complement.

His two goals are: to improve his income and to increase his height. (bad)
His two goals are to improve his income and to increase his height. (good)

13. Do not place a colon between a preposition and its object.

We drove to: Burnaby, Coquitlam, and Surrey. (bad)
We drove to Burnaby, Coquitlam, and Surrey. (good)

Etymology -
The word colon derives from the Greek kolon, part of a sentence (it literally means "limb").
Note: the word initially denoted an independent clause, then it evolved to denote the punctuation mark that was used to set off independent clauses.

Oxford English Dictionary -
The term's first citation in its punctuation-mark sense is from 1589: "The auncient reformers of language, invented, three manner of pauses … The second they called colon, not a peece but as it were a member for his larger length, because it occupied twise as much time as the comma."
(Puttenham Eng. Poesie ii. iv. [v.] (Arb.) 88 )



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