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US English

Posted by Harold on November 29, 2003

In Reply to: US English posted by Smokey Stover on November 29, 2003

: : Guidance/answer please.
: : From another forum:
: : "Growing up in England I was taught that a colon must always be followed by a lower-case letter. One of my students claims that US English allows an upper-case (capital) letter after a colon. Is this right?"

: : I would be as glad as James Briggs to know what is being taught in Amercian schools regarding the colon, punctuation generally, and the English language. The smallish children whom I have asked about it are so vague that I suspect English may be taught quite differently than in former days. To ask about spelling class, or handwriting class, is to provoke a blank stare. But I am ill-informed about this. I will say that insofar as I was taught anything about colons, it was that the normal punctuation of what followed the colon would usually prevail. If it introduced a formal list consisting of sentences, or a quotation, or a speech in a dialogue you would expect to see a capital letter. Usually you would (and do) expect to see lower-case, if that is what you would see after, say, a comma or semi-colon in that position. But US English, especially after 1963, is very tolerant, and I have seen plenty of capital letters following colons where I would not have expected to see them. SS

People will believe anything; I had a job applicant who insisted that he'd been taught never to leave spaces after commas or full stops (periods to some). I didn't employ him on the basis that he must have either been asleep or absent when English and, I suspect, many other subjects were being taught.