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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.


Australia


Japan


USA


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.


Example:


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.

and

You can read many other articles on punctuation here.




Conclusion


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




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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.






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