1 want to talk about colons today but not the ones that are a feature of the human digestive tract. No, I'm talking about that tricky little punctuation mark and its close relative, the semi-colon, a half brother in the grammatical world maybe? Even though I was subjected to an ultra-orthodox 1970s education, where sentence analysis and construction was a key theme during English lessons, I've never used them. Their purpose passed me by. Until now that is.
I've 'stumbled upon' a brilliantly useful section of the University of Bristol's website which isn't at all highbrow and academic. It makes understanding grammar and punctuation crystal clear. Not only does it describe how to use the colon, semi-colon and other tricky nuance of the English language correctly, there are little exercises to test your learning. So now I have it sussed here's some sentences that show off my new found skill.
Here's a colon introducing an idea....
There is one important thing that you need to know about the kidney: To the inexpert eye it can look like faecal matter on a CT scan.
The abdomen contains a number of important organs: the kidneys, liver, small intestine, colon and major blood vessels.
...and to introduce quoted material.
Lovelygrey often remembered the words of her anatomy lecturer: 'Never, ever go anywhere near an operating theatre!'
The semi-colon can be used to make sense of complicated lists...
In the abdomen there are a number of important organs including the kidneys, part of the renal system; the small intestine and colon, part of the digestive system; the liver, important to the endocrine system and major blood vessels.
..and to separate closely related independent themes.
There are colons and colons; they are different beasties altogether!