Colons and Dashes

The left side of the colon must be a sentence. The right side of the colon must be a list,

definition, or further explanation.

Use a colon to introduce a list, definition, or explanation.

This is what you’ll find in my refrigerator: carrots, eggs and yogurt.

Your instructions are as follows: Read the passage carefully, answer the questions, and turn over your answer sheet.

My sister is a paralegal: a legal professional who works closely with attorneys.

TEST (single dash): 
A single dash is used the same as a colon, so substitute it out for a colon and

use the colon test.

TEST (double dash): A pair of dashes are the same as parentheses and mean a side note. Try reading the sentence without what’s between the dashes, and if it reads fine, then this is the answer.

Use a single dash the same way you would a colon.

To decrease the annual number of heart attacks, Americans should examine the less healthy parts of their diet—fried foods, desserts, and snacks.

After eighty years of dreaming, the elderly man decided it was time to finally revisit the land of his youth—Ireland.

Use a pair of dashes to set off parenthetical or supplementary information.

A dash can also be used to set off a parenthetical or supplementary expression from the rest of the sentence.

At 32 degrees Fahrenheit—which is zero degrees on the Celsius scale—water will freeze.