Colons: Two Dots, So Much Meaning

Contributor: Jennifer Blanchard. Lesson ID: 13453

Have you ever noticed two dots, one on top of another, when you're reading? It looks like this : Why is it there? What does it do? Complete this lesson to see when, where, and how to use it!

categories

Grammar

subject
English / Language Arts
learning style
Visual
personality style
Otter
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:
  • Did you know there are 14 punctuation marks in the English language, and the colon is one of them?
  • Did you know that the colon can be called the great organizer?
  • Did you know that both dots in a colon are the same size?

colon

Keep reading to learn how great writers use the colon to organize their writing!

This lesson will show you what a colon is as well as when and how to use it.

Understanding punctuation helps you comprehend what you read and write more clearly so that others can understand you!

  • Do you remember what a colon looks like?

colon

Those two little dots, one on top of the other, is a colon!

This punctuation mark can be used in five main ways to organize ideas and make ideas more clear.

  1. A colon can be used to introduce a list or a series of items.

As you look at these examples, spot the colon and how it starts a list:

For the beach trip, you will need to bring: a swimsuit, a towel, water, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.

In order to make spaghetti, the ingredients needed are: pasta, marinara sauce, Parmesan cheese, and ground beef.

The bookstore had books separated by: home decor, gardening, baking, and sewing.

  1. A colon can be used to help show time more clearly.

For example, if you want to say it is one-thirty in the afternoon, you could write 1:30 PM. The colon goes between the hour and the minutes.

Look at these examples:

7:24 AM

6:45 PM

12:20 AM

  1. A colon can be used to separate a title from a subtitle.

For example:

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

William Shakespeare: The Complete Works

  1. A colon can be used to separate independent clauses within a sentence.

Remember that an independent clause is a group of words with its own subject and action (verb) that creates a complete thought.

The clause after a colon gets the most emphasis, and it either completes the thought of the clause before it or explains that first clause further.

Look at these examples:

All the family members agreed: they wanted to get a new puppy.

A dolphin is not a fish: it is a warm-blooded mammal.

  • Do you see how the second clause completes the first clause by providing the truly important information?
  1. A colon can be used to introduce a quote or direct speech.

Check out these examples:

He offered the following advice: "Take your time and try your best on the test."

My mom warned me: "Finish cleaning the kitchen before you go outside to play."

These are the five main uses for colons; however, there are a few other times when a colon is used to organize writing. Examples include Bible verses and in screenplays or interviews to show who is speaking.

Review all you just learned with Colon song from Grammaropolis - "The Colon: The Great Organizer" from Grammaropolis:

When you are ready, head over to the Got It? section for some colon practice!

Elephango's Philosophy

We help prepare learners for a future that cannot yet be defined. They must be ready for change, willing to learn and able to think critically. Elephango is designed to create lifelong learners who are ready for that rapidly changing future.