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TalencentrumOnderdeel van Rijksuniversiteit Groningen


Express yourself <> understand the world
TalencentrumVertalen en corrigerenStyle GuidePunctuationColon


1. to introduce a list

You will need these things for the trip: a tent, a sleeping bag, and food and water for three days.

There are two other varieties of cedarwood oil: Texas (Juniperus ashei) and Virginian (Juniperus virginiana).

2. to indicate that what follows is an explanation or elaboration of what precedes it

There are three arguments for the change in strategy: military, economic and, above all, ethical.

She was sure of one thing: she was not going to be a housewife.

3. to mark a clause in which reasons or explanations are given

We found the place easily: your directions were perfect.

We decided against buying the DVD player: it was too heavy to take on holiday with us.

4. to indicate a sub-title

The History of the Commonwealth: A Personal View

I recommend Chinnery's book Oak Furniture: The British Tradition

5. to introduce a piece of direct speech or a quotation

In his book America as a Civilization, Max Lerner asks: "What holds America together?"

6. to indicate a ratio

Among students of French, women outnumber men by more than 4:1.

In American usage, a colon is also used to separate the hours from the minutes when giving the time of day: 2:10, 11:30 (British English uses a full stop: 2.10, 11.30).

Last modified:15 September 2017 9.00 p.m.