Punctuation (Colons)

    1. We use colons to introduce a list of items.

Eg : John specializes in three subjects : art, architecture  and graphic design.

Don’t, however, use a colon when the list of items are incorporated into the flow of the sentence.

Correct: John specializes in art, architecture and graphic design.

Incorrect: John specializes in : art, architecture  and graphic design.

  1. We use colons between independent clauses when the second explains or illustrate the first.

Eg 1: I have very little time to cook dinner: my flight takes off in two hours.

Eg 2:  Investing on overseas education is justifiable: a recent survey revealed foreign degree holders

Earned 50% more than those with indigenous degrees.

Eg 3: Two of President Bush’s children are involved in politics: G.W. Bush Jr, Jeff Bush.

  1. Colon can also be used to emphasize a phrase or single word at the end of a sentence.

Eg 1 : After a comprehensive study, the investigation team finally reached a conclusion: cold blooded murder !

Eg 2 : 15 days, 6 European countries, over 10 important cities : a trip worthy of the cost.




We use ‘Dashes’ to;

Set off a non-essential clause.

Introduce a list or explanation

Create a deliberate pause

Nonessential Clauses:

Paris- which is a very old city- has many coffee shops

  1. In order to set off a non-essential clause we generally use 2 commas or 2 dashes. But not one each.

Eg: 3rd Panipat battle-which occurred in 1760, marked an important step in the Indian history.

  1. No change
  2. 1760-marked
  3. marked
  4. 1760:marked
  5. Before a list or explanation: dash=colon

In the above case a dash is equivalent of a colon.

Eg : The GOP convention has included a wide variety of artists –folk dancers, Jazz musicians, and cartoonists are some of its members.

Explanation: The great Dane does not make an ideal pet for most people-it requires a great deal of patience and empathy than many other animals do.PUNC


  1. Create a Pause

We use a dash to intentionally interrupt a statement or to create a dramatic suspense.

Eg : After 12 hours of flight, we finally handed home-and that was when we realized air travel was so comfortable.