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Teacher Tips and Answers

Using Colons

reading a paper

Use a colon to join two sentences when the second summarizes, explains, or illustrates the first. As with a semicolon, do not capitalize the first word of the second clause unless it would normally be capitalized.

Dan has one driving force: he loves motorcycles.

A colon can also follow a complete sentence to introduce a word or phrase that summarizes, explains, or illustrates it.

He has one thought: motorcycles.

You can use a colon to introduce a list as long as the material before the colon forms a complete sentence.

Dan loves them all: dirt bikes, cruisers, sport bikes, scooters, and touring bikes.

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