Colon Rules

Colons are used to link an independent clause with the following three things: a quotation, an explanation, or a list.

Quotation

Right! I will never forget the last words my father ever spoke to me: “Boy, that gun’s loaded!”
WRONG! My father’s last words to me were: “Boy, that gun’s loaded!”
Notice that the one marked “WRONG!” has a fragment before the colon.

Explanation

Right! Perhaps I shouldn’t tell such tasteless jokes about my father: He’s still alive.
WRONG! The reason I shouldn’t tell such tasteless jokes about my father is: He’s still alive
Notice that the one marked “WRONG!” has a fragment before the colon.

List

Right! There are three things you should never joke about: sex, death, and politics
WRONG! The three things you should never joke about are: sex, death, and politics.
Notice that the one marked “WRONG!” has a fragment before the colon.

Colon Quiz

Choose the sentence that uses the colon correctly.
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