I'm fairly terrible at English, is this correct usage of a colon?

Bigotry unfortunately doesn’t just relate to opinions: it refers to intolerance towards ethnicities and beliefs


  • 1
    I'm sure you're perfectly good at English: it is, after all, (I assume) your own language. Whether or not you know all the arcane and often arbitrary rules of fashion called punctuation is quite a different matter. These are important socially, just like knowing how to dress appropriately for the occasion; but say nothing about your competence in English.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 17, 2016 at 12:33

2 Answers 2


A semicolon is more appropriate here.

For the usage of colons this article is excellent.

For the usage of semicolons refer to this article.

You will find that the main theme is that colons are used to define what is before it, and semicolons are used to connect related ideas.

  • I disagree with your conclusion: I could argue that, in the cited sentence, "it refers to intolerance towards ethnicities and beliefs" is defining / amplifying "what is before it". I may well have used a semicolon there.
    – TrevorD
    Apr 17, 2016 at 12:02
  • Your link takes us to Jane Staus' Blue Book of Grammar and Usage, where we find this -- "Colons and semicolons should never be used interchangeably." But the Chicago Manual of Style notes that contemporary usage prefers that semicolons or periods separate definitional or exemplifying clauses. Pick your style manual; pick your style.
    – deadrat
    Apr 17, 2016 at 16:54

As punctuation is a matter of style, not grammar or usage, correct must be understood relative to the manual of style that you're using. I use the Chicago Manual of Style, which notes that a colon may be used to separate two clauses when the second clause provides an "illustration or amplification" of the first. Which seems to apply to your sentence.

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