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    #1

    ; or : and why?

    The sentence is taken from a response I made to a posting:

    "The 'matter' is whatever is at issue[:][;] for example, the matter could be a dispute between two parties."

    I used to write ';' where 'for example' links clauses, but I've recently been converted to ':'. Maybe I should just cop out and use the dash? And isn't a full-stop possible here?

    And what about straightforward lists:

    "I've been to many countries: for example, Russia, India ...."?

    Is a colon (or more informally, the dash) the only possibility here (assuming the sentence ends at the end of the list)?

  1. chester_100's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: ; or : and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by bertietheblue View Post
    The sentence is taken from a response I made to a posting:

    "The 'matter' is whatever is at issue[:][;] for example, the matter could be a dispute between two parties."

    I used to write ';' where 'for example' links clauses, but I've recently been converted to ':'. Maybe I should just cop out and use the dash? And isn't a full-stop possible here?
    Of course it is.
    -The 'matter' is whatever is at issue. For example, the matter could be a dispute between two parties.
    -The 'matter' is whatever is at issue; for example, the matter could be a dispute between two parties.
    -The 'matter' is whatever is at issue: for example, the matter could be a dispute between two parties.


    And what about straightforward lists:

    "I've been to many countries: for example, Russia, India ...."?

    I believe the colon here means something like 'for example'. We don't normally expect to see a detailed list after a colon. By simply putting '...' or 'etc' at the end of the sentence, you will imply that you're just giving some examples:
    -I've been to many countries: Russia, India, France, Brazil ... .

    However, it's not wrong to use colons that way, and if your examples are long (e.g. sentences), you can follow this pattern:
    -Some animals communicate by means of cries: for example, many birds cry when they feel danger; apes utter different ... .


    Is a colon (or more informally, the dash) the only possibility here (assuming the sentence ends at the end of the list)?
    Good luck

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    #3

    Re: ; or : and why?

    *Not a teacher

    -The 'matter' is whatever is at issue[:][;] for example, the matter could be a dispute between two parties.
    I would write 'The matter is whatever is at issue. For example, the matter could be a dispute between two parties'.

    -I've been to many countries: Russia, India
    I would definitely say 'I've been to many countries: Russia, India, etc.'

    I would add this is a way of writing. Some would rephrase it while others would write it in the same way or so. I stumbled upon several styles of writing: orginal ones, structured ones, uncorrect ones, etc. To me, the purpose is to be understood, perfectly.
    Last edited by philadelphia; 15-Jul-2010 at 09:27.

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    #4

    Re: ; or : and why?

    Thanks for that. And sorry, my 2nd sentence ('I've been to many countries ...') wasn't a very good example of what I was trying to illustrate, but going back to the first sentence: if both semi-colon and colon are possible, is there any difference in function? Does the colon announce, and the semi-colon balance, what follows?

  3. philadelphia's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: ; or : and why?

    This link explains it clearly: 410 Grammar: Using Colons and Semi-Colons

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    #6

    Re: ; or : and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by philadelphia View Post
    Some would rephrase it while others would write it in the same way or so.
    Here it is! I could have written it differently: 'Some would rephrase it; others would write it in the same way or so'.

    That being said, I read J-P Sartre's books and they blew me away regarding the way he wrote. When you read his book, you cannot help yourself reading as there is a kind of high pace. In other words, if you stop reading, you get lost. He keeps using appropriate punctuations to give a great pace to the words and the phrases as well! Read The words
    Last edited by philadelphia; 15-Jul-2010 at 10:01.

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    #7

    Re: ; or : and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by philadelphia View Post
    This link explains it clearly: 410 Grammar: Using Colons and Semi-Colons
    I'm clear on most uses of the colon and semi-colon[. - I know, for instance, that this could be a semi-colon but choose the full-stop partly because I use a semi-colon in the next clause] I'm less clear on cases where either is possible[; - like here?] for example, where sentences seem to be in balance and yet a colon can be used. For instance:

    'Man proposes: God disposes.'

    I'd use a semi-colon there and I can't see how a colon can be used.

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    #8

    Re: ; or : and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by bertietheblue View Post
    'Man proposes: God disposes.'

    I'd use a semi-colon there and I can't see how a colon can be used.


    Sure!
    As you see, it really depends on the its meaning. I found out that sometimes punctuations function like meaningful words. In the above sentence, a semicolon would replace 'on the other hand' or any other connectors showing contrast.

    -The introvert likes books; the extrovert is fond of people.


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    #9

    Re: ; or : and why?

    Thanks. That's exactly why I'd use the semi-colon in the example - meaning 'on the other hand'. It's the colon I've got a problem with!

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    #10

    Re: ; or : and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by bertietheblue View Post
    'Man proposes: God disposes.'
    I would never use a colon nor a semi-colon in that case. It would rather go: 'Man proposes, God disposes'. When the phrases are short, I mainly use a comma; when the phrases are not short, I mainly use a semi-colon.
    Quote Originally Posted by bertietheblue View Post
    I'm less clear on cases where either is possible[; - like here?] for example, where sentences seem to be in balance and yet a colon can be used
    Before 'for example' I would never write a semi-colon. Eg I like three colours; for example, green, red, blue. I prefer as follows: I like three colours: green, red, blue.

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