While colons might look similar to semicolons, they have their own distinct usage. A colon is basically a way of saying "here's what I mean" in punctuation. Let's take a look at the rules for using colons.
Colons Introduce An Item or Series of Items
You should use a colon to introduce an item or series of items. Don't capitalize the first item after the colon, unless it's a proper noun.
- I went to the store for several items: milk, cereal, and bread.
- I invited three of my friends to the party: Sarah, Katie, and Amanda.
Don't Use a Colon Directly After a Verb or Preposition
You shouldn't use a colon to introduce a list directly after a verb or preposition.
- Incorrect Example: Can you grab: bananas, apples, and pears?
- Correct Example: Can you grab bananas, apples, and pears?
Use a Colon to Introduce a Quotation That Contains Two or More Sentences
Many writers use colons to introduce quotations that contain two or more sentences.
- Our coach said to us: "Work hard. Remember your training. You can win this game!"