Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Often in spoken English, I see one sentence or phrase "set up" another much like an interjection. For example:

I forgot to ask. Did you find that book I told you about?

How do you generally punctuate this? I've seen a comma used for this, but I that's only correct if it can be argued that I forgot to ask is a proper interjection (can it be?).

Should I use a colon? Semi-colon? Does it matter?

share|improve this question
    
Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/4590/… –  Marthaª Nov 9 '10 at 18:46

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

You can certainly use a colon.

I forgot to ask: did you find that book I told you about?

Technically, using a semi-colon would not be grammatically incorrect (both parts being complete sentences), but it wouldn't really fit the situation.

share|improve this answer

You could punctuate this in a few ways, in decreasing levels of formality

With a colon (:)

I forgot to ask: did you find that book I told you about?

With a dash (–)

I forgot to ask—did you find that book I told you about?

With an ellipsis (…)

I forgot to ask…did you find that book I told you about?

The colon is the most formal, the ellipsis quite informal. I personally would use a dash. The ellipsis here is used to indicate a pause or an unfinished thought, which some purists might object to (claiming that an ellipsis can only be used to indicate something which has been left out).

share|improve this answer

I would use a comma:

I forgot to ask, 'Did you find that book I told you about?' (comma, direct speech)

One could rewrite it using indirect speech as well:

I forgot to ask whether you found that book I told you about (indirect speech)

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.