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How to Use Colon, the Punctuation Mark

The colon silently tells the reader, “Listen up. This is going to be important to you.” There are several instances where colons can be used correctly: 

There are many animals that I like:  horses, dogs, cats, mice, cows, and squirrels.

I made it very clear how he could show his affection:  holding open the door, pulling out my seat, even just smiling at me.

In both examples, the colon follows an independent clause (has a subject and a predicate) and introduces a list of examples. The lists further clarify what the speaker is trying to express.


One cannot deny reality: what will be, will be.

We all know that we cannot change one thing: the past.

In each of these examples, the colon replaces the use of a coordinating conjunction to join two independent clauses.

Here, the colon is once again used to join two independent clauses. While the use of a period would also be grammatically acceptable, the colon provides a better sense of anticipation. 


John Kennedy once said: "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country."

She greeted me saying "very nice to see you again."


The school master explained all the rules for using the gym auditorium such as, the time schedule and using showers.

Fifth, use a colon before a setting off a quotation.

Finally, colons can be used in letter and memo introductions, in time designations, titles, and Biblical citations.


Dear John Doe:

4:30 p.m.

Literature Studies:  Where the Rubber meets the Road

2 Corinthians 1:


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