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Colon (:) is a punctuation mark consisting of two equally sized dots. It is used in the following ways:

1. Clauses

The colon is used to separate two unequal main clauses in a sentence. Examples of unequal main clauses include introduction and definition or idea and explanation.

  • This is a soft day: it has been raining since dawn.
  • He had one aim in life: to live like a koala.
  • There was only one way to describe it: brutal.

For equal elements, you should use a semicolon.

2. Lists

Colons are used to introduce list items in a sentence. If the list introduction and list items form a complete sentence, you do not need a colon. In the examples given below, the sentence does not read correctly if you omit the colon, so a colon is needed.

  • There are four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter.
  • The four seasons are as follows: spring, summer, fall, and winter.

3. To separate hours, minutes and seconds when reporting the time of day

  • The programme finished at 20:45
  • This file was last modified today at 10:10:05

4. To separate a title with the corresponding subtitle
The gift of Nature: Trees

5. To introduce a sentence with the role of apposition with respect to the previous one
Aryan could not hear: he was deaf.

6. To introduce speech in a dialogue (such as a script)
Saroj: Doctor, I feel like vomiting.
Doctor: Drink fresh lime and do not exert!

7. Introduction of a definition and an acronym
Human Physiology: study of human body
ATM: Automatic Teller Machine

Sample Usage

1. I have two brothers: Dev and Raj.
2. Remember what Chico said: "There is no sanity clause."
3. There is only one explanation: the plane had never arrived.

Next Resource: To put the cart before the horse.
Previous Resource: Meaning and Usage of Elipsis

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