The colon and semicolon are commonly used incompetent English writing. Although they appear to be the same and have similar names, their functions are vastly different. The functions of the colon vs. semicolon will be explained in this blog.
Periods, question marks, and exclamation points are examples of punctuation marks that signify the end of a sentence. Commas, semicolons, and colons, on the other hand, can come in the middle of a statement without completing it.
Use semicolons when a stronger style indicator than a comma is required to connect closely related ideas. You may make your writing sound more sophisticated by skillfully using semicolons. When there is a need for greater separation than a comma can provide, but not nearly as much as a period may impose, semicolons should be used to link independent sentences. Semicolons are used to introduce proof or a rationale for the preceding statement; for instance, this sentence employs a semicolon appropriately.
Two periods are placed on top of each other to form the colon. On the other hand, a colon should be used when the relationship is stronger and more direct. It should emphasize something, give an example, or explain something. One could argue that a colon, rather than a semicolon, should be used at the end of the previous paragraph; nonetheless, most British authors would use one, whereas most American writers would use a semicolon.
When to Use semicolon vs. colon?
A semicolon is most usually employed to connect two independent clauses closely related to an idea (in a single phrase). When a semicolon is used to unite two or more ideas (parts) in a sentence, they are assigned the same rank or position.
Some people use a word processor, while others use a pen or pencil.
- When conjunctive adverbs or transitional phrases join two separate sentences, use a semicolon.
People are free to write in whatever way they want, and as a result, many people swear by their preferred methods.
- If any of the elements in a list or series contain commas, use a semicolon between them.
Writing can be done in two ways: with a pen or pencil, which is cheap and easy to use; or with a computer and printer, which is more expensive but rapid and neat.
- If the clauses are already punctuated with commas or if the clauses are extensive, use a semicolon between independent clauses connected by a coordinating conjunction.
Some people prefer to write with a word processor, tablet, or even a phone; while others prefer to write with a pen or pencil for various reasons.
A colon can be thought of as a punctuation mark that signals the arrival of something else. It’s a mark that indicates, “This is what I’m talking about.”
Remember the following guidelines:
- A colon must ALWAYS come after a complete sentence, according to the hard and fast rule. Never, ever use a colon after a sentence fragment.
- After a complete sentence or an independent clause, a colon introduces something which demonstrates, clarifies, or expands what was expressed in the sentence before the colon.
- You may also remember when to use a colon by using the method below.
- A whole sentence plus a colon + a list, fragment, or full sentence clarifies or expands on the initial sentence.
Wendy only likes two flavors of ice cream: vanilla and chocolate.
How to use colon and semicolon?
Whether you use a colon or a semicolon, keep in mind that the first word after a semicolon should not be in capitals unless it would be capitalized under any circumstances, like in the second example here:
The race would be postponed; the winds are dangerously strong.
My heart plummeted; when I realized, Anna hadn’t yet appeared.
Sensible scholars debate on the colon, but the first word after the colon must be capital if it is a proper noun or opens an independent clause, which is a phrase that may stand alone as a sentence. Because there is an independent clause following the colon in this statement, the word after the colon is capitalized:
The crew at the journal was ecstatic: Never had such a significant story been published, and it was in Cell!
Use of colon and semicolons before a list?
A colon is used before a list but not for every list.Only when the list comes after a complete independent phrase does a colon become necessary.
Here’s an example:
I have different supplies of art in my basement: acrylic paints, clay, crayons, watercolors, color pencils, and five types of art paper.
A colon is unneeded and improper when a list does not follow a complete independent sentence.
Lists that colon should not include the following:
- I got colored pencils, a fresh sketchpad, and charcoal when I went to the art supply store.
- You must watch all the lectures, pass both quizzes, and write a final essay to pass the course.
When a semicolon appears in a list, it appears between items rather than at the start. In a list, you’d use a semicolon to separate items, especially if they already had commas.
For example, during my trip to Asia last year, I stopped in Osaka, Japan; Tokyo, Japan; Bangkok, Thailand; and Seoul, South Korea.
We hope this handout has provided you with a better understanding of colons and semicolons!
Still, have questions about colons and semicolons?
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