Punctuate Like the President: The Colon

Dear Mount Students:
In reading Fr. Kevin’s recent holiday greetings, did you notice his stealthy use of the colon? Do you want to be able to punctuate like the president? Well then, let’s take a moment to explore the power of Fr. Kevin’s punctuation! Here’s what he had to say:
“Mindful of whatever is going on in each of our lives, and the lives of family, friends and even pets, let us reflect on the meaning of creation and the gifts that we are: given by God to one another.”
Now, you may be familiar with the colon as the punctuation mark that allows you to present items in a list, or sometimes even a quotation (as I have used it above); however, the colon can also facilitate enumeration, articulation of insight, or definition of whatever precedes it – as it does in Fr. Kevin’s example. He not only defines us – the members of the Mount community – as gifts, but with the use of that handy little colon, he provides the additional insight that we are gifts who have been “given by God to one another.” It’s the work of the colon that tell us, as readers, how to interpret what comes after it. Without the colon, we might think Fr. Kevin is encouraging us to be mindful of the gifts we are given: those jellybean-filled, plastic eggs perhaps? The solid milk-chocolate bunny? But Fr. Kevin isn’t talking about Easter candy! It’s the power of Fr. Kevin’s punctuation that allows us to understand what he is talking about and how his two ideas come together: not only are we gifts, but in enumerating what gifts we are (using the colon to do this work), we discover Fr. Kevin’s message that we are gifts of God.
Colons are amazing! To learn more about how to use them so you can punctuate like the president, check out the following blog entry by Grammar Girl on – you guessed it – the colon! http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/colons
This note is brought to you by your friendly, on-campus Writing Center. Be sure to make an appointment with us for all your writing needs at http://www.msmc.edu/writingcenter.
Enjoy your long weekend, and we look forward to seeing you in the Writing Center soon!
Take care,
Gina R. Evers
Writing Center Director

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