Thursday, March 14, 2013

Teach Me Thursday

I had to take off today because my digestive system decided that hanging out in the bathroom would be a fun task for the day. Not so much. 

Coincidentally, I thought we could discuss colons (the punctuation mark) today. After all, it's the current topic that I'm covering with my freshmen. You wanted to travel back to freshmen English class, right? I thought so. 

Four Ways to Use a Colon (the punctuation mark):

1. Introduce a Quote
Hey, college students, don't drop quotes into your papers. No quote should stand alone. Avoid the great quote plop, Charlie Brown. The colon can help rectify the situation. (See what I did there? HA!)

Example Quote Introduction:

Stacy London said my favorite quote from What Not to Wear today: "It's like, instead of getting a tan, she got a denim."

Instead of starting a new sentence and typing "she said"before the quote, I allowed the colon to connect the quote to my introduction of it. 


2. Introduce a list
This use is probably the most common, especially among people who aren't so comfortable with grammar. 

Example List Introduction:
I love watching marathons of my favorite TV shows: Law and Order, Big Bang Theory, and Criminal Minds.

In place of the colon, you could use a dash here or a comma. I think the colon works best. 


3. Clarification 
Sometimes, you need to specify which kind of a certain type. 

Example Clarification:
I prefer to watch Law and Order: Special Victims Unit

The colon helps me clarify that I watch Special Victims Unit, not Criminal Intent. Now you know why they actually place a colon in the title. 


4. The Equals Sign  
If what follows the colon "equals" what comes before it, then you've found a spot for the colon.

Example Equals Sign:
I'll tell you one thing: I'm not picking up after you. 
(What's the one thing? It's "picking up after you.")

There is one place I love to spend my time: Staples. 
(What's the one place? It's Staples.)

Often, the colon is interchangeable with a comma. Sometimes, however, it looks prettier and increases the sophistication. For the record, I checked: is it equal or equalS sign. According to Merriam Webster, they're interchangeable.

I hope you enjoyed today's lesson. Feel free to leave a comment using your favorite colon placement! :)
Additionally, if you have any lingering questions about grammar, let me know. I'll try to school you. 

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