1.The actor, a life well lived, died on the stage.

2.The victim, a local solicitor, was killed on impact.

Is it acceptable to use commas with 1, like 2, or should em dashes be used with after.

The actor — after a life well lived — died on the stage.

  • 1
    In principle you could use dashes (or brackets) instead of commas to delineate the "parenthetical" clause in both / all three examples. Note that the first one is a slightly different construction (it's not that the actor is "a life well lived" - that's an attribute, referring to the fact of him having done something), and it's a significantly more "stylized, literary" usage than the second. Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 17:46

1 Answer 1


The em-dash can replace parenthesis, commas, and also colons. That said, you can simply replace the commas with the dashes. There is no need to add any word (in your example, 'after'). The non-restrictive clauses with double commas (example number -2) can be replaced by em-dashes.

Nevertheless, as FumbleFingers pointed out, the first example does not mean that the actor is a life well-lived.

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