I want to add a colon or semi-colon after making conditional statements. Can we do this?

Here are some examples:

If you wish to go to bed, you can do that now: just brush your teeth, tidy up your room and turn off the light.

If you wish to go to bed, you can do that now; it is getting late already.

  • I'd say a colon is a very poor choice for your context, and a semicolon isn't much better. I'd either start a new sentence with Just brush your teeth... and It is getting late, or use an em-dash. Apr 18, 2022 at 15:20
  • Thank you for your comment. I just wanted to emphasize all of these actions that had to be taken. What should I have said if I wanted to use a colon? Can I add, "But you need to do the following first: brush your teeth..."
    – user154167
    Apr 19, 2022 at 8:28
  • Yes - as the first definition in @DialFrost's answer says, A colon is used to ... introduce lists. Note that I could reasonably have used a colon instead of a comma after says in my first sentence here. But the general trend is towards less / "lighter" punctuation, so on modern stylistic grounds I much prefer the comma. I think it's better to look for ways of avoiding use of the colon, rather than seeking out opportunities to include it in your text. Apr 19, 2022 at 11:59
  • Thank you! Oh wow that is a new way of thinking about the use of a colon and semi-colon.
    – user154167
    Apr 19, 2022 at 12:07

1 Answer 1


Definition of colon and when to use it

A colon is used to give emphasis, present dialogue, introduce lists or text, and clarify composition titles

In this case, you cannot use the colon in the first sentence you provided, as there is no emphasis being made here. Plus, the words before the colon do not reference anything after it, example:

She had one love: Western Michigan University

Definition of semi-colon and when to use it

A semicolon is most commonly used to link (in a single sentence) two independent clauses that are closely related in thought. When a semicolon is used to join two or more ideas (parts) in a sentence, those ideas are then given equal position or rank.


Use a semicolon between two independent clauses that are connected by conjunctive adverbs or transitional phrases.

Following the below as well

A semicolon can always, in principle, be replaced either by a full stop (yielding two separate sentences) or by the word and (possibly preceded by a joining comma).

We can tell that for the second sentence in your examples, you can use the semi-colon


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