Britlish

The Colon - Punctuation for Students

Writing | Grammar | English in Use

Writing

One of the four core skills of language is writing. The other three are reading, listening, and speaking. Because, like speaking, writing is a productive skill, it is not quite so easy to teach remotely as it is to teach in person. Nevertheless, I have attempted, in these Activities, to provide you with a means to practice some writing and provide some feedback through the interactive components.

Grammar

These Activities focus on the grammar of English. English grammar compared to other grammars is quite simple, but in its simplicity lies its complexity. The Activities here cover all aspects of English grammar from the aspects and tenses to sentence structures. English grammar covers the structure of words, phrases, clauses, sentences, and entire texts. There are eight parts of speech in English: nouns, determiners, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions. The largest of these parts of speech are the nouns which, unlike most European languages, do not have grammatical gender. English grammar has largely done away with the inflectional case system of other European languages and bases its grammar on analytic constructions. The Activities in this category will go some way to helping you get a better understanding of English grammar.    

English in Use

The Activities categorised as English in Use look at the way we use English in everyday life. The Activities cover the actual use of English and examine grammar, punctuation, and functionality of the language. For any student studying English as a second language or English as a foreign language, English in Use Activities are particularly useful for improving speaking, writing, reading, and listening skills. These Activities will help you to develop your confidence in using different types of text such as fiction, newspapers and magazines, as well as learning to speak and write about things such as the weather and travel, as well as preparing you for typical situations such as ordering in a restaurant or buying a train ticket.

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The colon is the two dots, one above the other: few people seem to know how to use it, and most, consequently, don’t. Many writers believe that the colon has only one purpose: to introduce a list. This lesson aims to put your right as to the use of the colon.

The colon is the two dots, one above the other: few people seem to know how to use it, and most, consequently, don’t. Many writers believe that the colon has only one purpose: to introduce a list. You can see from that last sentence, and the title of this lesson, that this assumption is erroneous, to say the least. Until the advent of moveable type printing in the 1450s, punctuation had been a mixture of marks borrowed from the Greeks through to the Medieval scribes. Moveable type fixed punctuation in the form we know today. Writers originally used the colon to mark almost any pause less than a full stop. By 1589, the colon was described as marking a pause: twice as long as a comma. William Bullokar wrote in 1616 that the colon was: “A marke of a sentence not fully ended which is made with two prickes.” By 1748, J. Mason in his book Elocution, felt that a colon was part of a series of pauses: A Comma stops the Voice while we may privately tell one, a Semi-colon two; a Colon three: and a Period four. What he meant was that when speaking, you should count to yourself: one, two, three, after a colon. In 1824, in his book, English Grammar, Lindley Murray proclaimed: “The Colon is used to divide a sentence into two or more parts, less connected than those which are separated by a semicolon.” Murray had nailed it: explaining the colon succinctly. Colons can be used to introduce a list like this: full stop, comma, exclamation mark, semicolon, and apostrophe. A colon can also be used to introduce a definition: a concise explanation of the meaning of a word. You can use a colon to introduce an explanation: this video was made to help you learn to use the colon correctly. Colons are used to show the natural effect or consequence of something previously said: the selfsame thing I am doing here. I can use a comma to show the parts of the whole, like the videos I have already made in this series: the full stop, the comma, and the exclamation mark. The title of this video English lesson, The Colon: Punctuation for Students, uses an appositive colon. I had to use it really: it’s part of the lesson. That’s how you use the colon: to introduce a series, an example, a definition, or an explanation.

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