The Colon

We use the colon ( : ) to:

1. introduce explanatory or appositive material.

  • There is only one person I can trust: myself.

2. introduce a list or a quotation.

  • So many happy thing happened in Marc's life recently: he got married, found a well-paid job and then won a lottery.
  • The President expressed his concern over the crisis: "We have to find a way out of this situation."
     

3. A common mistake among both ESL students and native speakers as well is to place a colon after such or including.

  • I know many people who have problems falling asleep, such as: Jake, Mike and Arnold. 
  • I know many people who have problems falling asleep, such as Jake, Mike and Arnold.
  • He has visited a number of countries during the last year, including: China and Brazil.
     
  • He has visited a number of countries during the last year, including China and Brazil.

Also, do not place a colon:

a) after verbs and its object and subject complements.

  • The most affluent provinces are: (...)
  • The most affluent provinces are (...)

b) after prepositions:

  • We stayed in: Sweden, Belgium and Germany (...)
  • We stayed in Sweden, Belgium and Germany (...)