I know many people do! When and where to use them, which should be used and so on.
The first thing to understand is the difference between a colon (:) and semi-colon (;). On Macs and PCs, these are the same key, but using the shift button for a colon – using the key to the right of the ‘L’.
Colons are used when things need to be listed or separated. Here is an example:
- Shakespeare said it: “Wherefore art thou Romeo?”
- I’d like to list my favourite fruits: strawberries, pears and bananas.
- Here’s a quote from the author: “I’ve written the best book ever!”
- We covered the basics in our class: grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax.
Semicolons, on the other hand, are used to expand a sentence, or give further meaning where commas just won’t do the job, but another sentence isn’t needed. Here are some examples:
- This paper can explain further; it doesn’t explain it fully, but does a good job.
- Money is the root of all evil; I don’t believe the reverse is necessarily true.
- She had all the necessary tools; a sharp mind, quick wit and strong humour.
There are many times when an en dash (–) will work rather than a colon – you should decide which you want to use yourself.
I hope that helps you somewhat! If you need to get in touch and ask any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
If you have any questions about the English language or need help getting your document into shape, then please get in touch with me. I will sort out all the English on every document you have and make sure it uses perfect English!
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