Staff Language Services

About the colon and the often underrated semicolon

June 2021: Do you know the difference between colon and semicolon?

Photo: Connor Pope, Unsplash

Colon (:)

A colon often precedes an example, an explanation, a list or a quotation.

In Danish usage, a colon is only followed by a capital letter, if you have a full sentence, whereas in English, a colon is normally followed by a lowercase letter. This, however, depends on the style guide you’re using.

DKSprogservice tilbyder: sproglig revision, oversættelse og sproglig sparring.
UKLanguage Services offers: language revision, translation and linguistic feedback. 
DKInden kildeteksten indleveres til Sprogservice, skal du kontrollere følgende: Om teksten er færdig og om den fungerer i forhold til målgruppen?
UKBefore submitting your source text to Language Services, you must check the following: is the text final and have you adjusted the text to the target audience?

Semikolon (;)

Semicolons are not used that often, but we at Language Services are huge fans of the punctuation mark. A semicolon is a pause double that of the comma but not as final as the full stop. You can use it to link two independent clauses that are closely related in thought.

A semicolon is followed by a lowercase letter.

  • It is important that you submit the text in due time; the originally agreed deadline may otherwise be postponed.

You can also use a semicolon between items in a list or series if the sentences are long and contain commas.

  • Remember to run a spellcheck before you submit the text; check that the text is adjusted to your target audience; and that the text is final, which will prevent subsequent revisions.