top of page

Learning Punctuation: Colons and Semicolons

Updated: Feb 21

closeup of computer keyboard showing colon and semicolon characters keys

Introduction - Learning English Punctuation

In this article, I want to explain two punctuation marks: the colon and the semicolon.

I'll go on to explain:

  • the difference between them

  • when you should (and should not) use them

And I will give you some examples.

Use them in a correct way and you will improve your English writing.

I used a colon in that first sentence.

If you cannot see it, this is what the colon looks like:

Colon ( : )

This is what the semicolon looks like:

Semicolon (😉 …and you notice that it makes a smiling, winking face if you put ; inside ( ) if you type it into your computer.

So here is the semicolon on its own: ; 

And again, I used a colon.

By now, you should be understanding the use of the colon, from the examples I have given you.

A rule for using a colon

The rule is that when you want to show that something is following, such as a quotation, an example, or a list, use a colon.

By the way, the plural of colon: colons.

See, I have used a colon again.

An important point to remember is this:

Do not use a colon in a sentence after phrases such as "such as", "including", and "for example".

Phrases like these tell the reader that a list of examples will follow.

So there is no need to introduce them with a colon, which would be redundant/not needed.

A rule for using a semicolon

Never introduce a list using a semicolon (explained below).

Sometimes, a sentence ending in a full stop rather than a colon will introduce a list.

And it might look like this. (I could have used a colon here, instead of the full stop.)

These are the countries that have signed up to the agreement.




Great Britain.

More about semicolons

Semicolons replace commas. I explained commas in another article.

A semicolon is used to join two independent clauses.

That means:

 two clauses as two separate thoughts could each stand alone as complete sentences.


This is a blog article; you can read many other articles on punctuation here.

You can see that there are two complete sentences there:

This is a blog article.


You can read many other articles on punctuation here.


In this article, I have explained two very common punctuation marks.

And here are two final examples of how to use them.

They are: the colon and semicolon.

Learn to use them; your English writing will be much better.

Further Reading

© Apex English Tutoring Dec 2020 - Updated January 2024

man in striped long-sleeved shirt talking on a phone.

About Me

Hello and welcome!

My name is Michael Finemore and I am the owner-operator of Apex English Tutoring.

As an experienced English Teacher, I'm passionate about helping people turn their 'poor' English into great English, with easy and effective ways to practice.

If you liked this article tell your 'tribe' about it.  Click any of the 'socials' below to share it.

Let's connect!

20 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page