comma or colon before final phrase: for its [p1], [p2], [p3]: Chaplin


New Member
British English
Hi, I'm having trouble understanding the use of colons and semi-colons. I'd really appreciate some help.

I have this sentence in an essay about penguins:

"We laugh at the penguin for its funny walk, flippers at its sides like a gawky adolescent, the very model of dignified absurdity from the nonchalance of its upturned beak to its splayed, flat feet, Charlie Chaplin in a tuxedo."

I'm not certain, but I feel like it would read better with a colon after "feet", so it would say:

"...from the nonchalance of its upturned beak to its splayed, flat feet: Charlie Chaplin in a tuxedo."

Would this make the whole sentence grammatically correct? Thanks in advance!
  • This is not a question about grammar, but one of style.
    If Charlie Chaplin in a tuxedo sums up the previous attributes (or attribute?), then I agree that it is slightly better style to put something in front of it, whether this is a semi-colon, a dash or like/resembling.
    But if this is a printed essay (what is the source?), it may be that the copy editor (if there was one) didn't feel it was worth suggesting a change.

    Oh,l I forgot to welcome you to the forum, Elliefox!
    Thanks for your replies! And thanks for welcoming me, e2efour.

    I'm trying to understand the different uses of colons and semi-colons in writing. I always get them mixed up, or I tend to just split sentences to avoid having to use them, so your answers have been really helpful. Thanks!