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  1. Adverbial
  2. Agentive ending
  3. Ain't
  4. American and British English differences
  5. American and British English pronunciation differences
  6. American and British English spelling differences
  7. American English
  8. Amn't
  9. Anglophone
  10. Anglosphere
  11. Apostrophe
  12. Australian English
  13. Benjamin Franklin's phonetic alphabet
  14. Bracket
  15. British and American keyboards
  16. British English
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  18. Certificate of Proficiency in English
  19. Classical compound
  20. Cockney
  21. Colon
  22. Comma
  23. Comma splice
  24. Cut Spelling
  25. Dangling modifier
  26. Dash
  27. Definite article reduction
  28. Disputed English grammar
  29. Don't-leveling
  30. Double copula
  31. Double negative
  32. Ellipsis
  33. English alphabet
  34. English compound
  35. English declension
  36. English English
  37. English grammar
  38. English honorifics
  39. English irregular verbs
  40. English language learning and teaching
  41. English modal auxiliary verb
  42. English orthography
  43. English passive voice
  44. English personal pronouns
  45. English phonology
  46. English plural
  47. English relative clauses
  48. English spelling reform
  49. English verbs
  50. English words with uncommon properties
  51. Estuary English
  52. Exclamation mark
  53. Foreign language influences in English
  54. Full stop
  55. Generic you
  56. Germanic strong verb
  57. Gerund
  58. Going-to future
  59. Grammatical tense
  60. Great Vowel Shift
  61. Guillemets
  62. Habitual be
  63. History of linguistic prescription in English
  64. History of the English language
  65. Hyphen
  66. I before e except after c
  67. IELTS
  68. Initial-stress-derived noun
  69. International Phonetic Alphabet for English
  70. Interpunct
  71. IPA chart for English
  72. It's me
  73. Languages of the United Kingdom
  74. Like
  75. List of animal adjectives
  76. List of British idioms
  77. List of British words not widely used in the United States
  78. List of case-sensitive English words
  79. List of commonly confused homonyms
  80. List of common misspellings in English
  81. List of common words that have two opposite senses
  82. List of dialects of the English language
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  100. London slang
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  146. Thou
  147. TOEFL
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  149. Truespel
  150. University of Cambridge ESOL examination
  151. Weak form and strong form
  152. Welsh English
  153. Who
  154. You

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Colon (punctuation)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The colon (":") is a punctuation mark, visually consisting of two equally sized dots centered on the same vertical line.



As with many other punctuation marks, the usage of colon varies among languages and, for a given language, among historical periods. As a rule of thumb, however, a colon informs the reader that what follows proves, clarifies, explains, or simply enumerates elements of what is referred to before.

The following classification of the functions that a colon may have, given by Luca Serianni for Italian usage,[1] is generally valid for English and many other languages:

  • syntactical-deductive: introduces the logical consequence, or effect, of a fact stated before
  • syntactical-descriptive: introduces a description; in particular, explicits the elements of a set
  • appositive: introduces a sentence with the role of apposition with respect to the previous one
  • segmental: introduces a direct speech, in combination with quotation marks and dashes.

This last was once a common means of indicating an unmarked quotation on the same line (from the Fowlers' grammar book, The King's English)

Benjamin Franklin proclaimed the virtue of frugality:— A penny saved is a penny earned.

A colon may also be used for the following:

  • introduction of a definition
A: the first letter in the Latin alphabet
Hypernym of a word: a word having a wider meaning than the given one; e.g. vehicle is a hypernym of car
  • separation of the chapter and the verse number(s) indication in many references to religious scriptures, and also epic poems; it was also used for chapter numbers in roman numerals
John 3:14–16 (or John iii:14–16) (cf. chapters and verses of the Bible)
The Qur'an, Sura 5:18
  • separation when reporting time of the day (cf. ISO 8601)
The concert finished at 23:45
This file was last modified today at 11:15:05
  • separation of a title and the corresponding subtitle
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
  • separation of clauses in a periodic sentence

In English, a colon may be followed either by a capital letter or by a lower case letter, as the author prefers (unless a capital letter is necessary for a proper noun).[citation needed] No particular consistency is required within a given text, although it is assumed that use of both capital letters and lower case letters after colons, in a single given text, would serve some purpose in communicating the author's desired meaning, rather than simply reflecting carelessness.

Conventions and non-English languages

In European languages the colon is usually followed by a lowercase letter (again, unless the uppercase is due to other reasons, such as a proper noun). Exceptions are Dutch and German, where an uppercase letter must be used if the colon is followed by a complete sentence or a noun, although in all other cases a lowercase letter should be used.[2]

No space is put before a colon, except in French.[3]

In Finnish and Swedish, the colon can appear inside words in a manner similar to the English apostrophe, between a word (or abbreviation, especially an acronym) and its grammatical (mostly genitive) suffixes.


The colon is also used in mathematics, cartography, model building and other fields to denote a ratio or a scale, as in 3:1 (pronounced "three to one"). Unicode provides a distinct ratio character, Unicode U+2236 () for mathematical usage.

In logic and, correspondingly, when describing the characterizing property of a set, it is used as an alternative to a vertical bar, to mean "such that". Example:

S = \{x \in\mathbb{R}: 1 < \; x < \; 3 \} \big(S is the set of (all and only) x in \mathbb{R} such that x is greater than 1 and smaller than 3\big)

In many non-Anglophone countries the colon is used as a division sign: "a divided by b" is written as a : b.

The combination with an equal sign, :=\,, is used for definitions.


A special triangular colon symbol is used in IPA to indicate that the preceding sound is long. Its form is that of two triangles, each a bit larger than a point of a standard colon, pointing toward each other. It is available in Unicode as modifier letter triangular colon, Unicode U+02D0 (ː). A regular colon is often used as a fallback when this character is not available.


In computing, the colon character is represented by ASCII code 58, and is located at Unicode code-point U+003A. The full-width (double-byte) equivalent, , is located at Unicode code point U+FF1A.

The colon is a special character in URLs, computer programming languages, and in the path representation of several file systems.

E-mail, IM

In online chats and in email, a colon, or multiple colons, is sometimes used to denote an action or emote. For example, if someone pokes someone else, he might simply send :poke: (or ::poke::, :: poke ::, etc.) to the other person. Colons might also be used for sounds. Compare to the use of the asterisk.


  1. ^ Serianni, Luca; Castelvecchi, Alberto (1988). Grammatica italiana. Italiano comune e lingua letteraria. Suoni, forme, costrutti (in Italian). Turin: UTET. ISBN 88-02-04154-7.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Lexique des règles typographiques en usage à l'Imprimerie nationale, ISBN 2-7433-0482-0
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