We need help with colons and semicolons - and we need the definitive answer here, with examples.

Here is my example:

There is hardly any reason to be happy in the DPRK: the people are the most repressed, the most isolated and the poorest people in the world.

Is the use of the colon acceptable or should I use a semicolon?

My English teacher is confused - and I as a student even more.

We've consulted a number of authorities, and they are somewhat contradictory: http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/semicolons.asp http://www.bristol.ac.uk/arts/exercises/grammar/grammar_tutorial/page_05.htm

The matter is: In my example "hardly any reason to be happy in the DPRK" I used a colon because according to the grammar book in certain circumstances we can use a colon: when the second sentence is an explanation of the first. (Can I use a colon after 'colon' in this sentence, when the second sentence is an explanation of the first.) :-)

Is there an easy way to sort this out? :-) I think this is all the fault of the grammar books!

I appreciate your help and I would like to thank you in advance.


1 Answer 1


Both of your colons are correctly placed. I will, as I have before, refer to the Guide to Punctuation by Larry Trask (University of Sussex).

Basically, what you read in your grammar book is correct. In this case, the colon precedes an explanation of what is before the colon. That is one of the times when the use of a colon is correct.

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