• 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.

    To Do:

    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.

Last Modified on November 3, 2016