Can a hyphen be used as a colon? For instance, a grocery list.

Grocery list - chicken sandwich, salad, fries

  • see also ell.stackexchange.com/questions/189903/…
    – James K
    Commented Feb 15, 2021 at 7:33
  • Whether written or spoken, the text Grocery list - chicken sandwich, salad, fries isn't remotely close to being a "sentence" in English, so it's a bit meaningless to ask whether the orthography conforms to any principles of "grammar", Commented Feb 15, 2021 at 15:17

1 Answer 1


That is well punctuated.

In a grocery list, sure! You are the only person who is going to read it. In a grocery list you could use a hyphen, a colon, a star, a couple of smiley faces!

In general hyphens should not be used, but a dash can be used to indicate an introduction or heading to a sentence. a hyphen is - but a dash is — (printers distinguish between several different types of dash an n-dash and m-dash with different lengths, that is an m-dash)

In a sentence you could write:

To improve their health, Americans should critically examine the foods that they eat—fast food, fatty fried foods, junk food, and sugary snacks. (example from the writing center)

A colon could also be used in that sentence.

The same site warns:

[Dashes] are almost never required by the laws of grammar and punctuation. Overusing dashes can break up the flow of your writing, making it choppy or even difficult to follow, so don’t overdo it.

  • Thank you James Commented Feb 15, 2021 at 7:40

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