Colons

What is a colon?
A colon is used primarily to demonstrate a balance between items on each side of it. A writer uses a colon to introduce a list or to prepare the reader for a quote.

HOT GRAMMAR TIP

If you can place the word "namely" just after the colon and the sentence makes sense, then you are using the colon correctly.

Example #1

Dinner will consist of the following: tuna fish, carrots, and a slice of pita bread.
Explanation: The colon serves as a cue to the reader that write is about to name the items being served.

Example #2

Many brave people try to live by Eleanor Roosevelt's famous words: "You must do the thing you think you cannot do."
Explanation: The colon tells the reader that the writer is about to introduce a quote.

Caution: The words before a colon must comprise a complete sentence whereas the words after the colon do not need to. However, if the words after the colon do comprise a complete sentence, then the first letter after the word should be capitalized; otherwise, the first letter is not capitalized.

Exercise 1 | Exercise 2