A core principle we were taught at Morningside Academy’s Summer School Institute: whenever you introduce a concept, you must always provide not only examples, but nonexamples, as well, especially what Kent Johnson called “close-in nonexamples.”
A close-in nonexample is close but no cigar.
That’s what gasstation does here, when he points out that a lot of people, having learned that colons introduce lists:
So that in the nature of man we find three principle causes of quarrel: first, competition; secondly, diffidence, thirdly, glory. The first maketh men invade for gain; the second for safety; and the third, for reputation.
. . . proceed to put colons before every list:
So that in the nature of man we find: first, competition; secondly, diffidence, thirdly, glory. The first maketh men invade for gain; the second for safety; and the third, for reputation.
In other words:
I went to the store and I bought supplies for breakfast: eggs, bacon, juice. (RIGHT)
I went to the store and I bought: eggs, bacon, juice. (WRONG)
Gasstation solves the how-to-teach-it-fast issue by simply telling people not to put a colon after a verb.
I think this approach would work when teachers crash-tutor standardized language tests. The challenge, tutoring ACT & SAT English, is that you’re trying to cram a not-insignificant amount of material into a student’s head in a very short period of time.
The material itself is easy, but learning it via brute memorization in 6 weeks’ time is not.
Don’t put a colon after a verb is exactly the kind of super-short, super-efficient rule a student can pick up quickly and hold on to. No need to get into “completers” and direct objects and all the rest of it.
Just: no colons after verbs.