For instance + "colon".

Take Bartlett pears, for instance: unless they are treated with exactly the right amount of 1-MCP at exactly the right time, they will remain hard and green until they rot, and consumers who experience this will be unlikely to purchase them again.

I remember being told that we typically don't use a colon after for example or for instance, instead we use a comma. I am more familiar with "Take Bartlett pears, for instance, unless they are... Why is using a colon correct?

  • (This question is from Khan Academy SAT Practice Test 3 (Question #29). I found that answer weird too.) Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 5:58
  • I find the exact same sentence on SAT reading question so I guess you are working on that. The correct answer is Take Bartlett pears, for instance: unless... So I think there is a comma in front of "for instance" and a colon after it.
    – user310334
    Commented Jul 28, 2018 at 16:32

2 Answers 2


You use a colon to introduce a series of items, or expand on your point, and it actually effectively means "for instance" or "for example" already in this style of usage, so saying "for instance:" is actually redundant. Similarly you've already said that "Bartlett pears" are an example of something with your usage of the word "take", so it's arguable doubly redundant to say "Take X, for instance:".

You would more properly write

"Take Bartlett pears: unless they are treated ..."

Read more about colon usage here: it's something that a lot of people get wrong.


  • Thank you for clarifying Max. I can see why it is redundant. Do you mind if I asked 2 quick follow up questions? 1) If we just looked at the phrase "Take Bartlett pears". Would you say that it is a complete sentence or a run-on? 2) I recall that colons are used only between two independent sentences. So I have my second question is if "Take Bartlett pears, for instance" is a complete sentence. Commented May 31, 2016 at 17:24
  • 1
    "Take Bartlett pears" on its own doesn't work, i think: it leaves the reader hanging, waiting for you to say something about them. Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 7:26
  • There is nothing wrong with a little double redundancy. Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 14:37
  • You say more properly write, which is exactly what the OP posted as right. I call this the emphatic colon, used with a full sentence. That SAT style ain't the best.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 28, 2018 at 16:41

In this case "for instance" is about "Take Bartlett pears" not about the rest of the sentence beginning with "unless......". Put the "for instance" at the beginning of the sentence and it will be clear to you. Like that: "For instance,take Barlett pears:unless they are treated....".So, if you going to change the place of "for instance", it doesn't mean that you have to remove colon.The reason why I haven't mentioned redundancy of "for instance" is that, the question asked by author is the SAT question and there is not any option without "for instance".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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