Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

Use a colon:

  • To introduce a list, or words, phrases, and clauses that explain, enlarge upon, or summarize what has gone before:
    Please provide the following: your name, address, and phone number.
    “No honest poet can ever feel quite sure of the permanent value of what he has written: He may have wasted his time and messed up his life for nothing.”—T. S. Eliot
  • To introduce a long quotation:
    In 1780 John Adams wrote: “English is destined to be in the next and succeeding centuries more generally the language of the world than Latin was in the last or French is in the present age…”
  • To separate hour and minute(s) in standard time notation:
    The train arrives at 9:30.
  • To close the salutation in a business letter:
    Dear Sir or Madam:

See also: The Colon

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