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As I understand it, one of the uses of colon is where what succeeds the colon expands on or explains what precedes the colon.

  • (1) The weight of homework from children's shoulders is then taken off: not to give way to idleness at home, but to leave them with the possibility of exploring sides of life other than school.

A) Is colon usage appropriate here ?

I've a second question too regarding the successive use of colons. Consider

  • (2) He was overcome with the feeling of existentialism: a familiar guest whose relationship with man has been humorously described in the words of Woody Allen: "I took a test in Existentialism. I left all the answer blank and got a 100."

["a familiar guest " refers to the feeling of existentialism]

B) Is this use of successive colon, if not standard, at least acceptable ?

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  • Example (1) has the drawback that the first independent clause sounds outlandish. (1') 'This will remove the unreasonable demands homework often makes on schoolchildrenØ not so as to encourage laziness at home, but to give more opportunity to engage in a range of wholesome extra-curricular activities.' The punctuation Ø can indeed be a colon, introducing a caveat and further expansion ... but this is becoming a dated usage. I'd go with Prem's suggestions here, though brackets round (not ...activities) works well too. // I think the two-colon sentence has been addressed already on ELU. Jun 25, 2022 at 8:57
  • @EdwinAshworth Thanks for your help. Jun 25, 2022 at 10:59

1 Answer 1

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(1) Here, the Colon should be Comma or Dash:

The weight of homework from children's shoulders is then taken off , not to give way to idleness at home, but to leave them with the possibility of exploring sides of life other than school.

The weight of homework from children's shoulders is then taken off - not to give way to idleness at home, but to leave them with the possibility of exploring sides of life other than school.

(2) Here too, one Colon should be Comma or Dash:

He was overcome with the feeling of existentialism , a familiar guest whose relationship with man has been humorously described in the words of Woody Allen: "I took a test in Existentialism. I left all the answer[s] blank and got a 100."

He was overcome with the feeling of existentialism - a familiar guest whose relationship with man has been humorously described in the words of Woody Allen: "I took a test in Existentialism. I left all the answer[s] blank and got a 100."

The Colon near Woody Allen is correct: It is a quotation.

Successive Semi-Colons are common. You should give some other Example for Successive Colons.

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