colons vs semicolons : Common Errors in English

About colons vs semicolons

Colons have a host of uses, but they mostly have in common that the colon acts to connect what precedes it with what follows. Think of the two dots of a colon as if they were stretched out to form an equal sign, so that you get cases like this: “he provided all the ingredients: sugar, flour, butter, and vanilla.” There are a few exceptions to this pattern, however. One unusual use of colons is in between the chapter and verses of a Biblical citation, for instance, “Matthew 6:5.” In bibliographic citation a colon separates the city from the publisher: “New York: New Directions, 1979.” It also separates minutes from hours in times of day when given in figures: “8:35.”It is incorrect to substitute a semicolon in any of these cases. Think of the semicolon as erecting a little barrier with that dug-in comma under the dot; semicolons always imply separation rather than connection. A sentence made up of two distinct parts whose separationneeds to be emphasized may do so with a semicolon: “Mary moved toSeattle; she was sick of getting sunburned in Los Angeles.” When a compound sentence contains commas within one or more of its clauses, you have to escalate to a semicolon to separate the clauses themselves: “It was a mild, deliciously warm spring day; and Mary decided to walk to the fair.” The other main use of semicolons is to separate one series of items from another—a series within a series, if you will: “The issues discussed by the board of directors were many: the loud, acrimonious complaints of the stockholders; the abrupt, devastating departure of the director; and the startling, humiliating discovery that he had absconded with half the company’s assets.” Any time the phrases which make up a series contain commas, for whatever reason, they need to be separated by semicolons.Many people are so terrified of making the wrong choice that they try to avoid colons and semicolons altogether, but I’m afraid this just can’t be done. Formal writing requires their use, and it’s necessary to learn the correct patterns.

colons in News

  1. Unclean colonoscopy instruments: 3 in 20 have 'dirt' from colons

    Bits and pieces of "biological dirt" from inside people's colons are being left on three in 20 of the instruments inserted in people's rectums to examine their lower digestive tract, according to a study at five hospitals nationwide.        
    on June 10, 2013 Source: Baltimore Sun

  2. Three-in-20 scopes used to examine GI tracts and colons dirty

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., June 8 (UPI) -- Three-in-20 flexible gastrointestinal endoscopes used to examine GI tracts and colons are improperly cleaned and may cause infection, U.S. researchers say.
    on June 8, 2013 Source: UPI

  3. Dirty Endoscopes Raise Risk for Patients

    A new study released Friday discovered that an average of 15 percent of flexible endoscopes used to examine GI tracts and colons at five hospitals were dirty, raising concerns that patients could be exposed to viruses.
    on June 7, 2013 Source: CNBC

semicolons in News

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