Posts Tagged ‘colon’

How to use INCLUDE properly.

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

The International Vintage Guitar Collectors Association advertisement I mentioned yesterday also contained this sentence:

The rarest guitars these collectors are looking for include: Martin, Gibson, Gretsch and Rickenbacker.

When INCLUDE is used in a sentence (as opposed to setting up a bullet list), it is not necessary to add a colon.  I also find the phrasing ARE LOOKING FOR INCLUDE a little awkward.  I would suggest rewording the sentence this way, with the colon omitted:

These collectors are seeking the rarest guitars, including Martin, Gibson, Gretsch and Rickenbacker.

Here is another point to remember about using INCLUDE–a tip from one of my favorite word references, The American Heritage Dictionary. "Include is used most appropriately before an incomplete list of components: The ingredients of the cake include butter and egg yolk. If all the components are named, it is generally clearer to write: The ingredients are…."  I like the American Heritage dictionaries because they include so many of these useful comments about usage along with the definitions.

INCLUDE was the appropriate choice for the guitar sentence because the writer wanted to convey the idea that these four brands are AMONG (but not the only) guitars collectors are seeking.


Colon? Semicolon? There IS a Difference!

Friday, January 21st, 2011

I received a "performance tips" newsletter this week that is poorly written and contains a number of punctuation errors as well as poorly worded sentences.  Because those who take my workshops often ask about colons and semicolons, I will focus on that error here. 

Consider this sentence, which has to do with emotional intelligence:

The five areas are; self awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy, social skills.

Whoops!  There is NEVER  a good reason for separating a verb (ARE) from its object or, in this case the subject complement, with a semicolon.  A semicolon functions the same way a comma followed by AND would function, as in "It was almost noon; the report was due at one o'clock." What the writer of the "five areas" sentence meant to do was insert a flag (a colon) that announced an upcoming list.  However, the writer could have simply gone on with the list with no additional punctuation.  The sentence should read one of these two ways:

The five areas are: self awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

The five areas are self awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

 The same "Whoops!" was committed again in the next paragraph, which contains this statement :

By mastering the Sales competency called Emotional Intelligence you can improve these specific Sales Competencies; Goals, Positive Attitude, and Strong Self Confidence.

There should be a colon, not a semicolon, after COMPETENCIES.  I would also suggest that, because there is an eight-word introductory phrase before the subject of the sentence (YOU), there should be a comma before YOU.  Here is my edit:

By mastering the Sales competency called Emotional Intelligence, you can improve these specific Sales Competencies: Goals, Positive Attitude, and Strong Self Confidence.

PLEASE NOTE: The list of specific Sales Competencies in this newsletter is much longer, and it does not exhibit good parallel structure.  Check one of my later posts for a comment on proper parallel structure for a list like this one.