Let’s Talk Grammar for a While
(Post Number Five)
The Elusive Colon
What can we writers say about the elusive little colon that some people abuse so much, they should have a “colon-oscopy!” Colons should be used infrequently, but when used properly, they can be a very effective little tool to get your point across. Let’s take a look at the little punctuation mark that looks like one period stacked on top of another. Here are its main uses and examples of each:
The colon is used to introduce a list or a series: (case in point!)
Example 1 – Our seasonal calendar is divided into four main time periods: winter, spring, summer, and fall.
Example 2 – Freddie said his best friends were also his brothers: Bill, Mike, and Ed.
*Notice that the only time you cap the word after a list or series is if the first word is a proper noun.
The colon is used to introduce a speaker or dialogue in a skit or play.
Ben: When my birthday comes around, I’m going to go on a skiing trip.
Susie: When my birthday comes around, I’m going to be forty!
*Notice the dialogue starts with a capital letter but has NO quotation marks in a play script.
The colon is used to introduce two or more sentences in close sequence.
Bud had two job choices: Should he work at the mini-mart? Or should he work at the hamburger joint?
*Notice that the word “Should” is capped after the colon because it’s a full sentence.
The colon is used in the greeting of a business letter or in the introduction to a speech.
Example 1 – Dear Senator Huey: (Letter)
Example 2 – To Whom It May Concern: (Letter)
Example 3 – Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury: (Beginning of a speech)
The colon is used when writing scripture references.
Example – One of my favorite verses is 1 Corinthians 15:10.
So there you have a quick review of the most important uses of the little colon. Use them sparingly, but use them correctly, and your writing will move to a higher level.
Next time, we’ll look at periods. “Periods?” you’re probably thinking. “Everybody knows how to use periods. Well, check in next time. You might be surprised to learn a few new things about this little dot that adds meaning to everything we write.
Keep on writing!
Watch for updates concerning next July’s Montrose Christian Writers Conference. We have a dynamite faculty lined up including film actor Torry Martin, Jim Hart from Hartline, four editors/authors representing publishing companies plus eleven other best-selling authors and the music specialists, Donna and Conrad Krieger.
P.S. If you haven’t been receiving my periodic Montrose Christian Writers Conference newsletter and you’d like to be on the mailing list, please contact me. A tremendous faculty has committed and promises to present dynamite classes for all aspects of writing.
More shameless promotion:
KEYSTONE STABLES SERIES BOOK 5
LEADING THE WAY
Skye and Champ befriend Katie, a blind foster girl, who wants to learn to barrel race a horse. Can she?