Semicolons and Colons

Semicolons and Colons :

Semicolons and Colons were originally used to designate pauses shorter than a period and longer than a comma. Now they are used to show certain grammatical relationships with the colon - the more emphatic of the two.

Semicolons with clauses

Semicolons are used to separate independent clauses when there are no conjunctions separating the clauses.

For example :

Duryodhana was a Kaurav; Arjun, a Pandav.

Semicolons are used to separate independent clauses when the clauses themselves contain commas.

For example :

She wears skirts with ric rac, a type of lace, but I prefer plain skirts myself. (Since the clause already has comma, semicolon separating the clauses is needed to make the sentence clear.) (Incorrect)

She wears skirts with ric rac, a type of lace; but I prefer plain skirts myself. (Correct)

Put in the appropriate semicolons.

1. Exercising helps to keep you healthy and fit proper nutrition is also important.

2. I believe there are three things to achieving good grades: paying attention in class doing your homework and listening to the teacher.

3. I like going fishing I don’t like putting worms on hooks!

4. Red is my favourite colour I like wearing blue sometimes.

5. Learn to use the semicolon properly your punctuation test mark will improve.

6. My dog likes to play with cats my dog likes most animals.

7. I have cable television cable television always has good movies!

8. I don’t sleep well at night I’m always tired during the day.

9. Jim went to the candy store quite often the clerk even knew his name.

10. She bought vegetables such as onions, cabbage and brinjals fruits such as apples, oranges and pineapples and some household items.

Colons with lists

Use a colon before a list.

For example :

Jagruti has all the ingredients : tomatoes, boiled potatoes, and sliced onions.

Colons before quotations

Colons introduce quotations that are formal or lengthy.

For example :

Dickens wrote: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’ (Formal quotation)

Colons introduce quotations that do not begin with a ‘he said/she said’ clause.

For example :

Aanva took the microphone : “Your honour, I object.’ (Clause preceding quotation does not have a verb which denotes speaking.)

In all cases, the colon precedes the quotation marks.

Colons in special cases

There are half a dozen special uses for the colon.

Numerical expressions of time

For example :

5:31 p.m.

The colon goes between the hour and minute. If seconds are noted, a colon goes between the minute and second.

For example :

He ran the marathon in 2:14:33.2. (Two hours, fourteen minutes, and thirty-three point turn seconds)

He ran a mile in 4:12. (Four minutes and twelve seconds)

Periodical references in a bibliography or formal reference

This may vary slightly depending on the form followed. Most frequently the reference is Volume : Issue Number or Volume : Page Number.

Bible references, Chapter : Verse.

For example :

John, 3:16 (The book of John, chapter 3, verse 16)

Subtitles for books, periodicals, and articles are preceded by a colon.

For example :

Ben-Hur : A Tale of Christ

Insert the colons at appropriate places.

1. On our farm we grow three crops wheat, sugarcane and rice.

2. In the bag were the following scissors, a hairbrush and her address book.

3. I’ve been to four continents Africa, North America, South America and Asia.

4. My friends think I’m funny I always make a fool of myself with them.

5. To Whom It May Concern.

6. I love healthy foods nuts, fruits, and vegetables.

7. Jayant had to answer the question should he say yes or no?

8. The ingredients are as follows salt, pepper, popcorn and raw vegetables.

9. There is one place I go every Sunday the library.

10. Don’t forget the number one class rule raise your hand.

Semicolons and Colons

Semicolons and Colons To HOME PAGE

The Sentences Index

Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.