Connecting your clauses with a semi-colon might provide a pause that is just right, while a dash could make that pause more dramatic by highlighting the following clause, or a colon could signal that the second clause expands on the first. A colon can also separate a sentence into two independent clauses when the two clauses are directly related and you mean to emphasize the second clause.
Ah, the age-old argument between semicolon, colon, and dash. Which type of punctuation should you use in this sentence? how did you find out? Is there a definite option where one is right and the others are incorrect, or is it more of a stylistic choice, such as whether to use the Oxford comma?
The debate over whether to use a semicolon, colon, or dash is understandable, but once you grasp the fundamentals, the solution is frequently obvious. It's usually either one or the other; very seldom is either a semicolon or a colon appropriate. Similarly, there are appropriate methods to use dashes unless you're deliberately breaking the norms for a stylistic reason (such as when writing poetry, creating a character's original lines, or defying tradition to draw readers' attention).
When do I use a colon?
A colon looks like this: :
In a sentence, a colon’s job is to introduce information and give it context. Think of it as shorthand for “which is/are,” “as follows,” or “thus.”
For example: “There are three kinds of soda on the menu: ginger ale, Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper.” This can also be written as “There are three kinds of soda on the menu and they are, as follows, ginger ale, Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper.”
A colon can also separate a sentence into two independent clauses when the two clauses are directly related and you mean to emphasize the second clause.
When do I use a semicolon?
A semicolon looks like this: ;
As we mentioned above, a semicolon joins two independent clauses together to create a detailed sentence. Take a look at this example:
My favorite meal is rigatoni with bolognese sauce and crusty bread; these foods remind me of my grandmother’s cooking.
You’ve got two distinct sentences there, but when they’re joined by a semicolon, they paint a fuller picture than they would if kept separate. The semicolon communicates a deeper relationship. Think of it as shorthand for a conjunction. Another way to write our example sentence is: My favorite meal is rigatoni with bolognese sauce and crusty bread because these foods remind me of my grandmother’s cooking.
The colon But not all lists should use colons. Only when the list comes after a complete independent clause is a colon required (and appropriate). Here's an illustration: In my basement, I keep a wide variety of creative equipment, including clay, acrylic paints, watercolours, coloured pencils, and five various types of paper. The list that comes after "I have a lot of various art supplies in my basement" cannot stand alone as a complete thought. The list of items in the previous example sentence clarifies the fact that there are art supplies in the basement without altering its meaning. You can also download our app from the playstore or visit our website.