The Mighty Colon
A colon is a punctuation mark, just like apostrophes, exclamation points, periods, and question marks. It's composed of two dots stacked one on top of the other. In grammar, a colon can be used before a list, after a greeting in a formal business letter, or to emphasize a point. Let's find out how.
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Lists of Items
Colons can be used before a series of items in a list. Let's look at an example:
''Mom needed to buy the following items at the grocery store: eggs, milk, butter, flour, and sugar.''
Here the colon is used to introduce the grocery list. In writing, it almost acts like a pause button.
A colon is also used in the greeting of a business letter. For example:
''Dear Mr. Jones:''
A colon is a formal way to start a business letter. The next time you read a letter like this, see if you can spot the colon.
Colons can also be used to emphasize or to make a point in a text. Authors like to use colons in their writing to make it more interesting for readers like you!
''On Christmas Day I got what I wished for the most: a brand-new bicycle!''
Here the colon indicates a dramatic pause. You can almost hear the drum roll after the first part of the sentence. The second part of the sentence, which comes after the colon, finishes the thought with more emphasis.
If the text following the colon is a complete thought, the first word should be capitalized. If not, the first word should remain in lower case.
Times of Day
Colons are also used when telling time on a digital clock. They separate the hours and the minutes on the clock.
''The time is 11:47.''
Here the colon is used to separate the hour 11 and the minutes 47.
Let's review. A colon is a punctuation mark that can be used to introduce a series of items in a list. It can also be used after a formal greeting in a business letter, or to emphasize a point. Finally, a colon often appears on digital clocks to show the time in hours and minutes. The next time you see a colon, you'll know what it is and how to use it!
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Using Colons: Lesson for Kids
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