Use a colon to introduce explanations, examples, and quotations. Usually, when preceding a quotation, the quotation is formally introduced. Also, when the colon is used to introduce an explanation, the explanation itself is an independent clause that could stand alone as its own sentence. In other words, the colon essentially joins two independent clauses together – the leading clause and the explanation. (See this post for more information about independent versus dependent clauses.)
Today, we find ourselves following very different paths that we each must travel alone: I will not help you, and I am certain that you will not help me. (The second clause of this sentence can stand alone, but it gives more explanation/builds upon the thoughts in the first clause. Thus, a colon may be used here.)
There are many times that I wonder who came up with this style: baggy shirts, baggier pants, and shoes the size of a clown’s. (The colon introduces an example of what style is being talked about in the first part of the sentence.)
A friend once gave this piece of advice: “First impressions are tricky; sometimes they’re correct, but sometimes they aren’t. In either circumstance, you’d best be wary of them.” (The colon precedes a formally introduced quote.)
Remember to leave questions and comments below! And be sure to check back tomorrow for the final post.
Day One: The Colon Loves Lists
Day Two: The Colon Loves Introductions <you are here>
Day Three: The Colon Loves Separations