Are you ready to learn a simple tip for using colons? Good!
Colons should be preceded by a complete sentence.
We’ll look at three main uses for colons, and we’ll see that each of them uses a complete sentence before the colon. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, and we’ll cover those below.
1. Introducing Lists
Many people mistakenly add a colon before every list. Remember that whatever comes before the colon needs to be a complete sentence.
2. Introducing Single Items
You can use a colon to introduce a single thing when you want to emphasize it.
3. Between Two Complete Sentences
This only works if the second sentence states a logical consequence of whatever is stated in the first sentence.
Here are some exceptions to the rule of having a sentence before the colon.
1. Introducing Dialogue in a Script
You might remember this from reading plays aloud in your English classes. Did you do this? Wasn’t it fun?
2. Time, Bible Citations, Ratios
These seem pretty obvious, but I thought I’d include them anyway! Note that there is no space after the colon in these examples.
3. Between a Book’s Title and Subtitle
Don’t use a colon between a title and subtitle if the title contains quotation marks that end in an exclamation mark or question mark.
4. After the Salutation in Formal Letters (American English)
In casual letters, you would use a comma after the salutation, but you’re writing a formal letter, use a colon.
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