Tell me please if I used the colon correctly in the following sentence.

What word does convey the meaning better: connote or imply?

I am not sure if it is a correct use of it. So tell me please what punctuation marlk should be used instead. Would the following sentence be better?

Which word does convey the meaning better? Connote or imply?

2 Answers 2


Colons tend to be used to introduce a list of items, which is what it is doing in the case above. "Connote or Imply" is your list of answers, and therefore it is most natural to use a colon. Ref.

The other thing to consider, is that "Connote or Imply" is not a sentence by itself, which is what the punctuation in option B is implying, since a "?" marks the end of a sentence much like a full stop. Ref.

Lastly, the word does in your sentence, doesn't feel natural. Consider instead:

Which word conveys the meaning better: connote or imply?

Which vs what. What to choose when?


I find it odd that there would be a question mark after a list of items. Generally, when a series of items are introduced as a list, they are simply stated—any question about the list would come before it or after it, but not in the same sentence.

Therefore, I would say you used the colon correctly as an introduction to a list—but I question the stylistic framing of the sentence.

I would rephrase your sentence:

Consider these words: connote and imply. Which conveys the meaning better?

The sentence could also be rephrased to drop the use of the colon (to introduce a list) altogether:

Does connote or imply convey the meaning better?

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