1

The author used a comma in the following text; I would have used a colon. Any thoughts?

"She is one of only a few lawyers with the necessary skills to advise on such deals[:][,] a significant achievement for a mid-level attorney."

  • Please provide a reference if you can. Unreferenced quotations are not very helpful. – Mick Sep 30 '16 at 5:19
  • 1
    I'm going with a comma. A colon in this sentence and at that juncture would invite a "list" thereafter as in, "She is one of only a few lawyers with the necessary skills to advise on such deals: a sound knowledge of property development, land law and the market make her the ideal choice for your business venture". – Peter Point Sep 30 '16 at 5:37
  • A colon here would lead me to expect a list of those necessary skills. Absent such a list, I'd use a comma. – Andreas Blass Nov 4 '16 at 21:24
  • Either is totally correct. This is a style call. The colon has numerous uses. Here it is 'leading into a phrase or clause (one can imagine 'which is' or 'this is' here) referencing in a developmental (though it might in other cases be explanatory etc) way, the last semantically appropriate noun phrase, or whole preceding clause'. It might be seen as too old-fashioned, while the dash (again not incorrect) might be felt to be a little informal. I stress might. An ellipsis could be used to signal a longer, dramatic pause, or a comma could be chosen for a brisker, more businesslike delivery. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 21 at 14:41
1

The Oxford Manual of Style lists one of the uses of the colon as:

The colon points forward: from a premise to a conclusion, from a cause to an effect, from an introduction to a main point; from a general statement to an example. It fulfils the same function as words such as namely, that is, as, for example, for instance, because, as follows, and therefore.

None of these seem to be the case here, although I can understand the temptation to assume that it is. I suspect that the author is correct.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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