The colon is used chiefly to introduce a list, quotation, or explanation following an independent clause (complete sentence).
- Use a colon at the end of a complete statement to introduce a list.
Example: I have a few favorite classes at LLCC: literature, psychology, and art.
- Use a colon at the end of a complete statement to introduce a summary, restatement, or explanation of the ideas presented in the preceding independent clause.
Example: Sara studied hard for one purpose: to succeed in her college courses.
- Use a colon at the end of a complete statement to introduce a long, formal quotation.
Example: In his book Life Lines, Forrest Church maintain that people should cry more: " Life is difficult. Some people pretend that it is not, that we should be able to breeze through. Yet hardly a week passes in which most of us don't have something worth crying about."
- Use a colon at the end of a complete statement to introduce a question.
Example: The primary question is this: Should we give up or keep working diligently toward our goal?
- Use a colon to separate a title from its subtitle.
Example: Korea: A Country Divided
- Use a colon after the salutation in a formal letter.
Example: To whom it may concern:
- Use a colon to separate the hours and minutes when indicating time.
The semicolon indicates a stronger division than the comma. It's main use is to join two or more independent clauses (complete sentences), but it is also used in some cases to separate items in a list.
- Use a semicolon to join independent clauses not joined by a coordinating conjunction (and, but, so, for, yet, nor, or).
Example: Some students do more than attend college; they have families and jobs that compete for their time as well.
- Use a semicolon to join independent clauses joined by a conjunctive adverb (however, therefore, moreover, etc.).
Example: I needed more time to study for my classes; therefore, I cut back on the hours I worked each week.
- Use a semicolon to join independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction if one or both independent clauses contain distracting commas.
Example: The Center for Academic Success offers peer tutoring for almost every subject; but if you need help with your writing, you should visit the Writing Center, conveniently located in the CAS.
- Use a semicolon to separate list items when the individual items in the series contain commas.
Example: Jeff lived in Springfield, IL; Seattle, WA; and Orlando, FL.