Colons and Colons

Photo: Anatomist90

As I dislike learning by rote, anatomy and physiology never floated my boat  during  my student days.   So, it’s no surprise that when I saw today’s picture, a transverse section across the abdomen, I mistook the person’s right kidney for a rather large poo.  Thank goodness  that I never had an inclination to become a surgeon.  Lord knows what I would have whipped out!

I thought that I’d talk about colons today. No, not the ones that are a  feature of the mammalian digestive tract. I’m talking about that tricky little punctuation mark. We’ll also consider its close relative, the semi-colon, a half brother in the grammatical world maybe?   Now I was subjected to an ultra-orthodox 1970s  education. Even though sentence analysis and construction were the mainstay of English lessons, I never used them at school.  Their purpose passed me by.

I came across a crystal clear guide from Bristol University that changed my mind about incorporating colons and semi colons into my writing. Follow the link here.  Not only does it describe how to use them there are little exercises to test your learning. To demonstrate my new found skill I’ve came up with these sentences as examples.

Here’s a colon introducing an idea….
There is one important thing that you need to know about the kidney:  To the inexpert eye it can look like a great big turd on a CT scan.

….a list…..
In addition to number twos in transit, the abdomen contains a number of important organs: the kidneys, liver, small intestine, colon and major blood vessels.

…and to introduce quoted material.
Lovelygrey often remembered the words of her anatomy lecturer:  ‘Never, ever go anywhere near an operating theatre, you accident prone nightmare!

The semi-colon can be used to make sense of complicated lists…
In the abdomen there are a number of important organs including the kidneys, part of the renal system; the liver, important to the endocrine system and major blood vessels; the pudding tummy, a very important part of the digestive system (not seen on the diagram above!).


..and to separate closely related independent themes.
There are colons and colons; they are different beasties altogether!

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