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She excelled in baking: her cakes and cookies won many awards.

Why should we use a colon and not a semicolon? Or can a semicolon still be utilized in place of a colon (in this example)?

We had a good time in France; the kids really enjoyed it.

Mother had to go in the hospital: she had heart problems.

Are the punctuations used correctly? If so, how can I distinguish between using a colon and a semicolon? The videos and articles aren't really helping me. Thank you so much!

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In many cases, one can choose either a colon or a semicolon:

She excelled in baking: her cakes and cookies won many awards.

The colon here emphasizes that the second half of the sentence is a direct outcome or product of the first part.

She excelled in baking; her cakes and cookies won many awards.

A semicolon is entirely possible there, if one does not wish to emphasize that the second part is a result or outcome of the first. But normally the semicolon is better used to suggest a less strict relationship.

She excelled in baking; her mastery of the kitchen was absolute.

Here the second part is not a direct outcome of the first, though the two are related.

Note also that lists are prime territory for the colon:

She went to the store for baking supplies: flour, eggs, sugar, yeast, and cooking oil.

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