What follows a colon punctuation mark

The colon: how to use it properly

The colon with the semicolon is one of the most "neglected" punctuation marks. Since you don't necessarily have to use them, many like to do without them. A text becomes much more readable and also more versatile if you use the full range of punctuation marks. So that you know exactly when you can use a colon, we explain exactly what its function is in a sentence and how you can best deal with it.

Two uses for the colon

The colon is a very special punctuation mark. While most other characters - full stop, comma, question mark, semicolon, and exclamation mark - separate two sentences or parts of sentences, the colon connects them. You can also easily remember this because this punctuation mark is also "permeable" as a symbol: something still fits through the two points.

You always use a colon when there is a logical connection between two sentences or parts of sentences, in two variants. Either you announce something in the first sentence (part) or the second sentence (part) summarizes the first.

Announcement in 1st sentence (part)

The most common use for the colon is to introduce a verbatim speech. So you are sure to use it often, because at this point it can hardly be avoided.


He said, "I'll be home a little later today."

But you can also announce other things, such as a list. The word “example” used here is also an announcement for the example that follows.


His backpack contained the following: a flashlight, knife, and diving goggles.

Summary in the 2nd sentence (part)

Another logical connection between two sentences or parts of sentences is to combine the first part in the second. This is the less common way of using this punctuation mark, but it makes a text particularly "elegant". So if you want to demonstrate how good you are with punctuation, this is an excellent opportunity.


Math, German, English: Today I have to do a lot of homework for all subjects.

And what happens after that? Upper and lower case after the colon

It is relatively easy to decide whether to use upper or lower case after a colon. If you definitely don't want to go wrong, just keep writing lowercase. According to the Duden, this is possible in any case. If the colon is followed by an entire sentence that could stand on its own, you can start it with a capital letter, but you don't have to. Exception: If the colon is followed by verbatim speech, it always begins with a capital letter.

We hope that we were able to help you a little further with this article. If you have any questions about the colon, please let us know in the comments!