“Use a Colon after an Independent Clause to Introduce a List of Particulars, an Appositive, an Amplification, or an Illustrative Principle.”

[If you’d prefer to use this as a learning support in Microsoft Word typescript, click on that link and it will download to wherever on your computer downloads land.]

“7. Use a colon after an independent clause to introduce a list of particulars, an appositive, an amplification, or an illustrative principle.

A colon tells the reader that what follows is closely related to the preceding clause. The colon has more effect than the comma, less power to separate than the semicolon, and more formality than the dash. It usually follows an independent clause and should not separate a verb from its complement or a preposition from its object. In the four sentences that follow, the first sentence in each pair is wrong; it should be rewritten as in the second sentence.

Your dedicated whittler requires: a knife, a piece of wood, and a back porch.

Your dedicated whittler requires three props: a knife, a piece of wood, and a back porch.

Understanding is that penetrating quality of knowledge that grows from: theory practice, conviction, assertion, error, and humiliation.

Understanding is that penetrating quality of knowledge that grows from theory, practice, conviction, assertion, error, and humiliation.

Join two independent clauses with a colon if the second interprets or amplifies the first.

But even so, there was directness and dispatch about animal burial: there was no stopover in the undertakers foul parlor, no wreath or spray.

A colon may introduce a quotation that supports or contributes to the preceding clause.

The squalor of the streets reminded her of a line from Oscar Wilde: ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.’

The colon also has certain functions to form: to follow the salutation of a formal letter, to separate hour from minute in a notation of time, and to separate the title of a work from its subtitle or a Bible chapter from a verse.

Dear Mr. Montague:

departs at 10:48 P.M

Practical Calligraphy: A Guide to Italic Script

Nehemiah 11:7

Excerpted from: Strunk, William Jr., and E.B. White. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition. New York: Longman, 2000.

2 responses to ““Use a Colon after an Independent Clause to Introduce a List of Particulars, an Appositive, an Amplification, or an Illustrative Principle.”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.