How to use Colons and Semi-Colons in English

Summary: How to use the semi-colon in English.

When do we use the colon in English?

1) To introduce quotes

A colon can be used before a quote, especially if the quote is given on a separate line.

  • A quote can be introduced like this:

    Quote Quote Quote Quote Quote Quote Quote Quote Quote Quote Quote Quote Quote Quote Quote Quote Quote
    (Source)

2) Before a list

A colon can introduce a list in a sentence.

  • A list can be introduced like this: item, item,item.

3) Before an explanation

A colon can introduce an explanation.

  • The police made several arrests: there was a lot of trouble after the match.

4) To separate titles from sub-headings.

  • Punctuation: the colon.

When do we use the semi-colon in English?

1) To connect two grammatically independent items that are closely connected through meaning

To link two things that could function as independent sentences, but work better together in the same sentence, we separate them with a semi-colon:

  • Some people love it; others hate it.

2) To separate items in a list

Semi-colons be used in lists, especially useful when the list is complicated or contains words like 'and':

  • The government has listed its key areas for policy: law and order; the war on drugs; tax cuts and other economic incentives; ...

Note: Some people write the word without the hyphen: semicolon.

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