What is a colon?

A colon is made up of two dots on top of each other :

What is a semi-colon?

A semi-colon is made up of a dot and a comma ;

What is the difference between a colon and a semi-colon?

A colon is used after a stated fact and before an explanation or a list of examples. It is also sometimes used to replace quote marks in dialogue, like in a script. See Wikipedia for details.

A semi-colon, on the other hand, separates interdependent statements. You commonly see it before a list of items where commas would cause ambiguity or to link related clauses.

Semicolons are followed by a lower case letter and one space.

Examples of using a semi-colon:
  • I saw three people: James, who came from Ireland; Alex, the electrician's son; and Georgia, a gaunt kind of woman.
  • Several fast food restaurants can be found within the cities: London, England; Paris, France; Dublin, Ireland; and Madrid, Spain.
  • Examples of familiar sequences are: one, two and three; a, b and c; and first, second and third.
  • (Fig. 8; see also plates in Harley 1941, 1950; Schwab 1947).
  • I went to the basketball court; I was told it was closed for cleaning.
  • I told Ben he's running for the hills; I wonder if he knew I was joking.
  • Nothing is true; everything is permitted.
  • A man chooses; a slave obeys.
  • I told John that his shoe was untied; he looked.
  • Everyone knows that he is guilty of committing the crime; of course, it will never be proven.
  • It can occur in both melodic and harmonic lines; however, it is subject to certain restraints.
  • Of these patients, six were not enrolled; thus the cohort was composed of 141 patients at baseline. This is the least common use and is mostly confined to academic texts.

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