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Is a capital letter needed after a colon?

(19 Posts)
Demiwave Thu 15-Sep-11 12:23:59

When using a colon in a sentence, is a capital letter to start the second part? Google gives me lots of conflicting answers, as do people I have asked.

seeker Thu 15-Sep-11 12:26:35

No. Categorically no!

TheBends Thu 15-Sep-11 12:28:25

Yes, after a full colon. No after a semi colon.

bridgingtheabyss Thu 15-Sep-11 12:28:33


Demiwave Thu 15-Sep-11 12:40:50

See! Nobody can agree! Can anyone back up their answer with evidence? I am getting so confused!

Malcontentinthemiddle Thu 15-Sep-11 12:45:29

No. I think Americans do it, though.

The evidence as far as I can see would be that a colon does not end the sentence, so you wouldn't put a capital after it.

TheBends Thu 15-Sep-11 12:48:40

I was taught to use a capital, but having googled it I think it depends on the connection between the first and second parts of the sentence. Maybe it's just one of those things that there is no categorical right or wrong answer.

Do you have a specific sentence in mind - can you share it with us?

TheBends Thu 15-Sep-11 12:51:41

More googling has unearthed the Wikipedia definition. Does this help?

Abra1d Thu 15-Sep-11 12:52:44

In a normally laid-out sentence you do not use a capital, so, for example,

To make the cake you need these ingredients: butter, eggs, flour.

If you were laying it out like this, with a new line, you might,

To make the cake you need:

In some American usage (title, presentations) they do use capital after a colon but it is not common over here.

madmomma Fri 07-Oct-11 22:55:13

Yes, but not after a semi-colon. Check David Crystal's website.

nickelbabe Sat 08-Oct-11 13:15:32

no no no no no no no

a colon is the equivalent of the word "because" or the phrase "the reasons are"
(or similar)

Its use means that you are not using a new sentence: a new sentence requires a capital letter.

jimswifein1964 Sat 08-Oct-11 13:16:20


nickelbabe Sat 08-Oct-11 13:16:41

yy Abra1d - if you are writing the title of a book, then yes, you can use a Capital, but if just a sentence, then definitely no.

caughtinanet Sat 08-Oct-11 13:18:45

I'm not a grammar expert by any means but I'd say a capital letter would be wrong, wrong wrong as you aren't starting a new sentence.

nickelbabe Sat 08-Oct-11 13:19:07


A new version of the glossary went live in 2008: see Shakespeare's Words.
(form his biography page)

Shanghaidiva Sat 08-Oct-11 13:19:48

No, absolutely no capital!

AmINearlyThereYet Sat 08-Oct-11 13:27:12

Fowler's Modern English Usage (2nd ed, 1965) and "Grammar and Style for examination candidates and others" by Michael Dummett, Professor of Logic Emeritus at Oxford (1993) both say no.

scaevola Sat 08-Oct-11 13:43:28

No, because the sentence hasn't ended.

The exceptions would be in titles (where most words are capitalised) and when the word immediately following is a proper noun.

I wouldn't however see it as wrong if it were supporting a particular style of formatting (as in the list example above).

I shall go and see if I can find the David Crystal reference, but note that he is an observational linguist, not a prescriptive or proscriptive one.

madmomma Sat 08-Oct-11 18:38:14

Ooh I must be out of date then. I shall further research the matter as I am a complete geek.

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