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    #1

    Colons only after independent clauses...

    Hello.

    I have read that colons should only be used to introduce a list if they are preceded by a complete sentence. That rule seems OK to me, but I came across this example, which is marked as correct, on a well-known website:

    We have taken a vacation in the following countries: Philippines, China, Thailand, and Hong Kong.

    To my mind the opening clause contains a subject and a predicate, but I don't see how it can be considered complete; after all, it requires the list to make sense, surely.

    Can anyone shed any light please?

    Thanks in advance.

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Colons only after independent clauses...

    The "rule" goes too far. Your example sentence is correct.

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    #3

    Re: Colons only after independent clauses...

    Thanks for the reply, but I'm still a little stumped because of the following claims.

    Two websites state that the following sentences are correct as regards their colon usage, *and* that the first clause in each of them is complete:

    For their anniversary they went to the following places: Aruba, St. Martin, Jamaica, and the Bahamas.

    To make clam chowder you need the following: minced clams, milk, potatoes, and onions.

    Grammar Girl's favorite hobbies are the following: skiing and reading.

    How can anyone claim that, 'For their anniversary they went to the following places', 'To make clam chowder you need the following', and 'Grammar Girl's favorite hobbies are the following' are independent clauses/complete sentences that could each end in a period?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Colons only after independent clauses...

    You are over-reading the rule. Obviously what follows the colon is important to the meaning of the sentence. Why else would it be there?

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    #5

    Re: Colons only after independent clauses...

    The rule says the first clause must be independent. How can I over-read it? If the first clause needs the text that follows the colon to make it complete, then it wasn't independent to begin with, surely?

    The inconsistencies within English are bad enough, but to make a firm 'rule' and then break it in the examples given seems even worse to me.

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Colons only after independent clauses...

    The clauses are grammatically independent. It is just that meaning is not clear without the remainder. If you want to use "rules" you need to understand them.

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    #7

    Re: Colons only after independent clauses...

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    The clauses are grammatically independent. It is just that meaning is not clear without the remainder. If you want to use "rules" you need to understand them.
    I would have thought that by asking questions I was seeking explanations, not condescension. If you don't want to help me, please don't bother to reply.

    Wikipedia is as good a reference as anywhere: 'An independent clause (or main clause) is a clause that can stand by itself; also known as a simple sentence. An independent clause contains a subject and a predicate; it makes sense by itself.'

    How can, 'For their anniversary they went to the following places', be considered to make sense by itself? What am I missing? I'm trying to explain this to someone else, a teenager, and I'm struggling to do so.

  4. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Colons only after independent clauses...

    Matt, there is nothing more that I can do for you. You are stuck in your own world. You do not want to listen. Good luck.

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    #9

    Re: Colons only after independent clauses...

    I know where your head is stuck. Thanks for all your 'help', Mike.

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    #10

    Re: Colons only after independent clauses...

    I don't think this is a very good rule. Do you have any examples of colon use that follow this rule?

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