Colon and semi-colon are often used in writing. What are their differences?
Colon is used mainly for the following reasons:
(1) To introduce a quotation or a dialogue, e.g. The President said: "Racial discrimination should not be tolerated." Of course, a comma can also be used. The only difference is that a colon is stronger than a comma in introducing what follows.
(2) To emphasize what is to follow, e.g. He wanted only one thing: money.
(3) To explain something, e.g. The manager works very hard: he never leaves his office before 8 p.m.
Semi-colon is used for the following reasons:
(1) To replace the use of coordinating conjunction (and, but, for, or, nor,so, yet), e.g.He worked very hard; he passed his test with flying colors. (He worked hard, so he passed his test with flying colors.)
(2) To separate long sentences, e.g. When he finished his work, he went to the mall, where he spent hours shopping; he was very tired but he did not want to go home because he had an argument with his wife that morning.
(3) To introduce sentences for balance, e.g. In the morning, she does some stretch exercises; in the afternoon, she goes to the gym; in the evening, she goes to a yoga class.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau