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Video transcript

hello grammarians in this video I'm going to tell you about a piece of punctuation called the colon the colon is these two little dots right here one stacked on top of the other and it has quite a few functions just like a lot of other pieces of punctuation the idea of this linking function is that the colon can link an independent or dependent clause with another independent or dependent clause or a phrase or a word when there's a strong connection between the two things that it's linking so if I want to tell someone what I think about two movies about animals I could say both movies are great but sky pal has one thing that makes it better dogs that play sports this is one sentence with two parts that are linked with this colon so the first part says both movies are great but sky pal has one thing that makes it better and that could stand alone as a sentence but it doesn't tell us what that one thing is so the colon comes in and tells us I'm about to tell you what that thing is dogs the play sports so in this case the colon just sort of serves as a connection between the purple part of the sentence and the yellow part of the sentence another example is something like going skydiving made me face one of my greatest fears parachutes right again this colon is sort of linking these two parts of the sentence where one answers an unanswered question from the first part like what is this greatest fear well it's parachutes the colon is here to link between this whole independent clause and the word parachutes I could just as well say going skydiving made me face one of my greatest fears period that's a perfectly fine sentence but without a colon linking to what that fear is that sentence kind of just leaves us wondering so another sort of subset of the colons ability to link things is that it can introduce things one thing that the colon can introduce is a list I could say we needed to find three more items on the scavenger hunt a four-leaf clover a cauldron and an abandoned ship the second thing a colon can introduce is an item if I'm talking about the other day when I had a weird legume craving I could say I only wanted one thing from the grocery store peanuts lastly a : can introduce a quote so my friend Liz says it best never open a jar of pickles you can't close I'm not really sure what that means but she does say it best so as you can see like it was in the first couple example sentences there's kind of information missing from the first parts of all three of these sentences we needed to find three more items on the scavenger hunt well what did you need to find or I only wanted one thing from the grocery store what did you want or my friend Liz says it best well what does she say that's where the colon comes in to introduce that missing information so there's one final case of the linking function of the colon that I want to get into in this video if you remember from the beginning of the video I said that colons can introduce an independent clause to another independent clause sometimes that's pretty rare usually that's the job of a comma and a conjunction or maybe a semicolon but as always it's still important for you to know even the things that don't happen all that often something like remember to take off your sunglasses when you drive through a tunnel you can't see when it's that dark the colon in this example shows that you can't see when it's that dark is an explanation of why you need to take off your sunglasses this is one of the two types of sentences where it makes sense to have a colon between two parts of the sentence that could stand on their own as individual sentences so we can say one the second part explains the first part the other case is when the second part of the sentence is emphasized so this would be something like I drank way too much soda I'm never going to fall asleep these are two independent clauses that could be their own sentences but they're closely related enough that it makes sense to have them connected as one so the colon links them together and the second part is emphasized right that's the focus of the sentence I'm never going to fall asleep so in these two sentences we can see that the colon can connect to parts that can stand alone as their own sentences right whether it's two independent clauses like in the second sentence or an independent clause that's technically connected to a dependent clause but can stand alone now okay this usage a is really uncommon I really want to stress that usually when we're uniting two independent clauses or at least two parts of a sentence that can stand on their own as individual sentences we're going to use a comma and a conjunction or a semicolon but in the case that the second clause or the second part of the sentence is emphasized or explaining the first clause then you'll want to use a colon just keep that in mind usually this independent to independent clause linking happens with the semicolon and not a colon but regardless this is important to know it's possible in these specific cases what's most important for you to take away is that the colon can link things and introduce things as part of its many functions and that's the linking function of the colon we've got independent clauses dependent clauses phrases words and introductions for lists and items and quotes you can learn anything page out