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Which sentence with punctuation mark is correct?

Sentence 1:

The lack of information regarding this matter is what has led me to make the objective of this investigation: to answer this question.

Sentence 2:

The lack of information regarding this matter is what has led me to make the objective of this investigation to answer this question.

Sentence 3:

The lack of information regarding this matter is what has led me to make the objective of this investigation - to answer this question.

  • Can you please show some real examples — the contrived ones don't seem to make sense with or without punctuation. – Weather Vane Aug 23 '18 at 20:47
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    In terms purely of punctuation, numbers 1 and 3 are both correct. But the problem does not lie in the punctuation. All the variations are so verbose and so vague that correct punctuation does not make any of the variations intelligible. I think what you want to say is something like: The lack of accessible and reliable information on X has greatly hindered analysis. The purpose of this report is to provide such information. – Jeff Morrow Aug 24 '18 at 1:32
  • Punctuation is stylistic and subjective. There is nothing really wrong with any of these sentences when it comes to their punctuation or lack thereof. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Aug 24 '18 at 2:50
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Actually i think only (2) is strictly correct if you want to say "the objective is to answer this question."

Compare:

I made the objective: to answer this question.
I made the objective to answer this question.
I made the objective - to answer this question.

If you had a instead of the, (1) and (3) would be more correct.

I made a new objective: to answer this question.
I made a new objective to answer this question.
I made a new objective - to answer this question.

This is because X: Y and X - Y mean that Y is an example of X, and not Y = X.

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