# 6.8: Colons

$$\newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} }$$ $$\newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}}$$$$\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}$$ $$\newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}$$ $$\newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}$$ $$\newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}$$ $$\newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}$$ $$\newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}$$ $$\newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}$$ $$\newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}$$ $$\newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}$$ $$\newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}$$ $$\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}$$ $$\newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}$$ $$\newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}$$ $$\newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}$$ $$\newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}$$ $$\newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}$$ $$\newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}$$ $$\newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}$$ $$\newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}$$ $$\newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}$$

Colons are used to draw attention to certain words. They are used after an independent clause to direct attention to a list, appositive or quotation, between independent clauses when the second clause summarizes or emphasizes the first clause, or after the greeting in a formal letter. Some examples follow.

Use of Colons
Case Example Note
List
• I have three sisters: Catherine, Sarah and Mary.
• Sandwich requires several ingredients: bread, butter, cheese, ham and tomatoes.

Appositive
• My mom has three pets: two cats and a dog.

? There was only one possible explanation: The train had never arrived.
Quotation In the words of Homer: "Doh!"
Between independent clauses Life is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you're going to get.
Introduction of a definition Hypernym of a word: a word having a wider meaning than the given one. Is a special case of appositive.
After salutation Dear Sir or Madam:
In a dialogue Patient: Doctor, I feel like a pair of curtains.
Doctor: Pull yourself together!

Separation of title from subtitle Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Separation of the chapter and the verse numbers of religious scriptures
• John 3:14–16 (or John III:14–16)
• The Qur'an, Sura 5:18

Separation within time of the day
• The concert finished at 23:45.

Common Misuse of Colons
Case Example Note
Between a verb and its object
• Some important computer programs are: Word, Excel and Publisher.
• Sandwich requires: bread, butter, cheese, ham and tomatoes.
By omitting the colon, the example becomes correct.
Between a preposition and its object My cars of choice consist of: Honda Accord and Ford GT. By omitting the colon, the example becomes correct.
After "such as", "including" or "for example"

## Bibliography

6.8: Colons is shared under a CC BY-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.