As a writer, you need to be familiar with the punctuation marks and how to use them. The one we will be talking about today is the semicolon and colon.
The colon can be confusing due to some reasons. For example, American and British writers do not use it in the same way, some people mistake the semicolon for colon, and grammarians have not yet agreed on whether the words that come after the colon should be capitalized.
For many years now, the British writers usually put a semicolon where a majority of American writers would put a colon. A semicolon is to be used for linking independent clauses/phrases when more separation is needed that a comma may not be able to provide. But it should not be too much as can be imposed by a full stop/period. A semicolon is supposed to introduce a reason or evidence for the previous statement; for instance, there is appropriate usage of a semicolon in this sentence.
On the contrary, yet, a colon is supposed to be used to make a more direct and stronger relationship. It provides an explanation, examples, or emphasis. Someone could argue how a colon is used, rather than how a semicolon is used, at the conclusion of the preceding paragraph.
Whether you want to make use of a semicolon or a colon, all you just have to remember is this: The 1st word following a semicolon must not be capitalized, except there is a reason for you to capitalize it, as used in one of the following examples:
- We will postpone the event; the winds have become dangerous already.
- I almost fainted; Esther had not still returned home.
When it comes to using a colon, the 1st word following the colon should be capitalized only if it is introducing an independent phrase or is a noun. We are going to give you an example of what we just mentioned. In the following example, notice how the sentence has an independent phrase following the colon, making us capitalize the word following the colon.
- There was excitement in the team: This kind of important story has never appeared before.
But, if the sentence after the colon is not independent, or is just a fragment of a sentence, then you need to use lowercase. Here are examples:
- Here are some animals that studies were done on: cats, alligators, mice, and fruit flies.
- That was the only thing that could make him fall in love: her Current Biology document.
Finally, let us briefly talk about the appropriate time that a colon can be used in a sentence. A complete sentence should not be disrupted by a colon. For example:
WRONG: The ingredients to prepare it includes: flour, butter, rosemary, and a pinch of salt.
RIGHT: The ingredients to prepare it includes flour, butter, rosemary, and a pinch of salt.
RIGHT: The ingredients to prepare it includes the following: flour, butter, rosemary, and a pinch of salt.With this article, I believe you now understand how and when to use a colon and a semicolon.