Colon Pre-assessment Name ______________________________
1. Write a colon (the punctuation mark, not the body part). _______________________
2. Define what a colon (the punctuation mark, not the body part) is for (when to use it). ______________________________________________________________________
3. Correctly use colons below in as many ways as you can.
A. There are lots of times to use colons that you probably already know about:
· In times (5:15 AM)
· In business letter greetings (Dear Senator:)
· In referencing volume and page (Encyclopedia Brittanica IV:312) or chapter and verse (John 3:16)
· Before subtitles (as in the book Chef Doortay: Hooray for the Paste Gourmet)
· With ratios (girls outnumber boys 3:2)
· In play script dialogue, instead of quotation marks (Fred: Come here, doggie!)
· After words like caution, wanted, or note. (Caution: Rabid Squirrels.)
· Before a blank for someone to fill in (Name: ______________________________)
(Give an example of a colon used correctly: _______________________________)
· Before a long, formal quotation (Governor Davis stated to the press: … )
B. You also know you use a colon before some lists—particularly after these phrases: the following, as follows, such as, or these things. (My hobbies are the following: DJing, eating paste, and pelting possums.) (Note the colon preceding the bullet points in A, above.)
Note: you don’t need a colon after just the words is or are, before lists. (My hobbies are DJing, eating paste and pelting possums.) The colon is a substitute for those. (My hobbies: DJing, eating paste, etc.)
C. But the main time to use a colon is to say, “here comes an example” or “here is what I’m talking about.” This is where people leave it out the most, wrongly using a comma or semi-colon instead. (I love one treat most of all: mega-paste.) (Janie understood her longing for love through nature imagery: "Oh, to be… any tree in bloom, she thought." [p. 13]). (You’re a bully: you pick on everyone you can.) A colon shows the relationship between two things: the first part is the category, the second part the example or illustration.
D. In that last example, what follows the colon may be a phrase (fragment) or clause (complete sentence). If the first word after a colon begins a complete sentence, you may capitalize it. But you don’t have to. Most people don’t, but it’s your choice. (She was the greatest dancer ever: Even the gods stole her moves.)
E. If either a colon or semi-colon would be grammatically correct (I like you___ you are smart.), the colon is the better choice because it shows a relationship in meaning, not just in sentence construction.
1. Write 1-3 examples of each kind of colon.
2. Edit your most recent papers to put colons where they belong.
3. Find 5 colons, of the type in letter C above, in books or articles in the next week. Print and highlight them or copy them into a notebook. Turn them all in on one page.