1. rjconk
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    rjconk New Member

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    Colon or what?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by rjconk, Feb 13, 2012.

    "Do not remove the tourniquet in the field if: an amputation or near-amputation is present, the patient exhibits S/Sx of volume shock, or the patient's condition is unstable due to a different MOI."

    I thought a colon because it's introducing several independent clauses. If the colon is correct, is the placement also correct, or should it go before "if"? Thanks!
     
  2. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I always teach that before a colon there is (nearly always) a complete sentence, and words after the colon are specifics for the first part of the sentence, like a list of parts, for example. Maybe this is oversimplification (my students are struggling with English as a second language). Your example, with the 'if', falls outside this. Actually, the colon doesn't seem to serve any real purpose--the sentence is absolutely fine without it so it beats me why you put it in. But I'm happy to hear other people's views on this.
    Example of sentence with colon as I would teach it (my personal take!):
    Do not remove the tourniquet in the field under some conditions: if an amputation or near-amputation is present, if the patient exhibits S/Sx of volume shock, or if the patient's condition is unstable due to a different MOI.
     
  3. rjconk
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    rjconk New Member

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    Thanks, Madhoca. I inserted the colon because the sentence was about to introduce a list of possibilities. Using your example, would it be necessary to include "if" for each subsequent clause, or would it be possible to put the colon before the first "if" and call it a day (see below for what I mean)?

    Correct? "Do not remove the tourniquet in the field under some conditions: if an amputation or near-amputation is present, the patient exhibits S/Sx of volume shock, or the patient's condition is unstable due to a different MOI."

    -Thanks for your help.
     
  4. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, I think it's okay without repeating the second and third 'if's (and perhaps 'certain conditions' would be better than 'some conditions'), but I'd be interested to see anyone else's take on this!
     
  5. rjconk
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    rjconk New Member

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    I'm going to omit the colon because the first part of the sentence demands emphasis with the latter serves an explanatory role.

    "Do not remove the tourniquet in the field if an amputation..."

    Thanks for assistance!
     
  6. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yep, I think it reads better without.
     
  7. Jowettc
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    Jowettc Contributing Member

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    My reference material states three common misues of the colon:

    Between a verb and its object or compliment e.g. Some important vitamins found in vegetables are: vitamin a, vitamin b....etc (incorrect)

    Between a preposition and it's object e.g. The areas to be painted consited of: three gable ends, a wall...etc (incorrect)

    After 'such as', 'including', or 'for example' e.g. The trees on the campus included many fine specimens such as: black pines, ginkos....etc (incorrect)

    I'm no grammar expert but i think in your case - do not use the colon.

    If you were wording the sentence, 'There are five conditions when you should not remove a tourniquet in the field: if an amputation or near amputation is present,....' etc. then I would use a colon, but not as you have written it.
     
  8. rjconk
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    rjconk New Member

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    Thanks for the tips.
     
  9. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would use a colon if I were using a bulleted list:
    Do not remove the tourniquet in the field if:
    • amputation or near-amputation is present;
    • the patient exhibits S/Sx of volume shock; or
    • the patient's condition is unstable due to a different MOI.
    Otherwise I'd go for:
    Do not remove the tourniquet in the field if an amputation or near-amputation is present, the patient exhibits S/Sx of volume shock, or the patient's condition is unstable due to a different MOI." ​
    Incidentally, is "present" the right term for an amputation? This is clearly a specialist field, so a non-standard use like that might well be a term of art, I suppose.
     
  10. rjconk
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    rjconk New Member

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    It's pretty common, at least for the author I'm working with, to use "present" in such a context. Thanks for the suggestions and for bringing my attention to the word choice.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    a colon is fine there, but you should separte the items in the following list with semicolons...
     
  12. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ok, that must be a US thing, because in British usage either a comma or a semicolon can be used.
     
  13. Jowettc
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    Jowettc Contributing Member

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    I have a US reference book and it states to use a semi-colon between items in a list after a colon, if they have internal punctuation such as comma's, quotations etc....I don't see those in this case.
     
  14. rjconk
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    rjconk New Member

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    As a new member, I appreciate that this thread has turned conversational without losing focus.
     

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