The colon

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zenten
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The colon

Postby zenten » Thu Sep 06, 2007 6:16 pm UTC

What are the valid uses of the : symbol?

I've been taught conflicting things.

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Postby ArchangelShrike » Thu Sep 06, 2007 6:58 pm UTC

I am in no position to be telling anyone anything about English, but I always learned it was for displaying lists: apples, oranges, bananas, tomatoes, tomatoes, etc...

But then again, I am usually out of my league with grammar.

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Postby Bakemaster » Thu Sep 06, 2007 7:35 pm UTC

Denoting a list, presenting an example as a new paragraph/section (for in-sentence examples a comma generally works, doesn't it?), or whenever the pause of a semicolon is too short and that of a full stop too long. That is, of course, some combination of formal education and my own personal opinion.
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Postby damienthebloody » Fri Sep 07, 2007 2:43 am UTC

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Postby Khonsu » Sat Sep 08, 2007 3:42 am UTC

Colons can be used before lists and quotations (e.g. "Mark Twain wrote on the subject:" or similar), and for separating independent clauses (though a semicolon is usually used, a colon is acceptable for effect), and for usage with appositives for emphasis (e.g. "The moral of the story: Always speak the truth!").

Of course we use colons for time notation, subtitles in media, and for certain reference styles (periodicals, Bible verses).

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Postby cmacis » Sat Sep 08, 2007 3:48 pm UTC

You may connect two sentences with the colon, while the semicolon can connect two sentence fragments.

Mike liked red apples; Sally liked green.
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Re: The colon

Postby Monox D. I-Fly » Tue Jun 28, 2016 4:22 am UTC

To replace the division symbol which is not provided on keyboard, to symbolize a ratio, and to mark something the characters said in a drama script.

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Re: The colon

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue Jun 28, 2016 10:48 am UTC

cmacis wrote:You may connect two sentences with the colon, while the semicolon can connect two sentence fragments.

Mike liked red apples; Sally liked green.
The BBC is funded from the TV licence: commercial channels are funded from advertising.

Very wrong. None of those clauses are sentence fragments, and they could stand as grammatically complete sentences if you chose to punctuate them that way because they're independent clauses. A semicolon could be used in either case, because a semicolon joins two grammatically complete independent clauses.

A colon in between two independent clauses is a rarer case indicating a different relationship between the sentences being joined; it's far more common, in cases where a colon appears between two clauses like that, for one of those clauses to be subordinate. That means that if it were instead punctuated separately as a sentence, that clause would be a fragment.

In the rare case it's used in place of a semicolon between two independent clauses, the colon implies that the second sentence "explains" or "answers" the first: it's a very fuzzy and unhelpful definition that results in decisions of taste. In your second example, though, I would have preferred a semicolon myself. (And in my own here, honestly, without dropping the "it's" and reducing the latter clause to a noun clause, which would make the colon in place of the semicolon mandatory.)
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Re: The colon

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jun 28, 2016 12:38 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:
cmacis wrote:You may connect two sentences with the colon, while the semicolon can connect two sentence fragments.

Mike liked red apples; Sally liked green.
The BBC is funded from the TV licence: commercial channels are funded from advertising.

Very wrong. None of those clauses are sentence fragments, and they could stand as grammatically complete sentences if you chose to punctuate them that way because they're independent clauses. A semicolon could be used in either case, because a semicolon joins two grammatically complete independent clauses.

A colon in between two independent clauses is a rarer case indicating a different relationship between the sentences being joined; it's far more common, in cases where a colon appears between two clauses like that, for one of those clauses to be subordinate. That means that if it were instead punctuated separately as a sentence, that clause would be a fragment.

In the rare case it's used in place of a semicolon between two independent clauses, the colon implies that the second sentence "explains" or "answers" the first: it's a very fuzzy and unhelpful definition that results in decisions of taste. In your second example, though, I would have preferred a semicolon myself. (And in my own here, honestly, without dropping the "it's" and reducing the latter clause to a noun clause, which would make the colon in place of the semicolon mandatory.)
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Re: The colon

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue Jun 28, 2016 1:01 pm UTC

Wow. Necros suck.
Quizatzhaderac wrote:Our perceptions add an imaginary component to our real friends, making the relationship complex.

Soupspoon wrote:Even my real real friends are pretty much all irrational.


she / her / her

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Re: The colon

Postby Soupspoon » Tue Jun 28, 2016 1:10 pm UTC

I was going to suggest the thread should be renamed for the ellipsis, but…


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