The Colon

This page was first published on the 5th of April, 2014 and last updated on the 2nd of April, 2017 by Patrick Carpen.

The colon is a punctuation mark or punctuation device which helps writers to better express themselves. The colon is placed at the end of the first part of a sentence to indicate that what is coming next will “prove” or “support” what was said in the first part of the sentence.

Here are some examples:

John is a really fast runner: he won all the races.

Mary is really intelligent: she answered every question correctly.

Don’t think anyone gets away with doing evil: God never sleeps.

A colon is also used to precede a list of items after the first part of a sentence.

I want the following items: pencil, eraser and writing pads.

The Colon: Pointing Forward

The colon serves notice that something “fulfilling” is coming.

Here is an example:

I bought the following: mangoes, pineapples and oranges.

The colon points forward. The colon suggests that what will follow will fulfill the statement that went before.

Use of the Colon: Examples:

Noreen studied the note which read as follows: Meet me at the Rodeo Ground at Two O Clock.

The Rodeo featured the following attractions: bull riding, horse racing and a pageant.

In addition there were lots of activities and games to take part in: roller coasting, dancing, Shoot the Prize and Trap the Bottle.

Noreen figured it out as follows: Aaliyah likes dancing, so I’ll meet her at the Dancing Hall.

But Noreen was disappointed for this reason: Aaliyah was not there.

Noreen looked in these likely places: the main building, the grandstand, the midway and even the stables.

She questioned the following school friends: Natasha, Meckella and Ave.

They all gave her the same response: No sign of Aaliyah.

As the day grew hot, Noreen decided to act as follows: she would rest under a shady tree.

Her decision brought her good luck in this way: her friend was somewhere close to the tree.

Here is what Noreen found: Aaliyah and Shelly were pitching horse shoes.

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