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I've seen countless people do this, but I am unsure if it's correct usage or not.

This show is talked about, but that brings up the important question; will it be great?

Should I use the example above? What about this version?

This show is talked about, but that brings up the important question: will it be great?

Is one wrong and the other right, or can both be right? I usually see people throw these nasty semicolons in right before questions that follow up in the same sentence and same clause.

2 Answers 2

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The second sentence is correct.

What the colon does in this case is attribute what comes after it to what came before it.

Before: the important question
After: will it be great?

To understand it better, ask yourself, "What exactly is the important question?" The answer you're looking for comes after the colon: will it be great?
(Will it be great? is the important question.)

Now, you can still make sense of the first sentence. Using a semicolon creates two complete sentences, which we have here. However, with this, the relation that a colon would create doesn't exist so the sentence (or sentences) doesn't flow well, although the idea is the same in both parts so it still works.

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You can end a sentence with a preposition; that rule hasn't been in effect in any English since my father was at university. He was Brit born and anal (yet brilliant) about grammar use.

As for your other question, the second one would be correct. You can only use a SEMI-COLON if the two sentences can be connected realistically with a FANBOY (for, and, nor, but, or, yet ) and still make sense.

You use a COLON when what comes after the colon more fully explains what came before the colon. Since "will it be great" better explains what "the important question" is, then go with the colon.

I hope that was explained clearly. Sometimes I only make sense to myself. ;)

P.S. We just addressed this issue in the Writing Grammatically course I'm taking. Unless Canadian grammar is that much different than American grammar, this is the rule for using semi-colons and colons that we covered.

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