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I had a sentence formed like this:

"I am an essential part of this society--not only as a citizen but also as a son, a husband, and a parent--which makes me equally responsible."

But, I have to upload this in a textbox which doesn't allow using em-dash (indicated here as --).

I tried two alternatives:

  1. "I am an essential part of this society not only as a citizen but also as a son, a husband, and a parent which makes me equally responsible."
  2. "I am an essential part of this society both as a citizen and as a son, a husband, and a parent which makes me equally responsible."

The problem with 1 is that I feel I may have got my punctuation wrong. Introducing extra commas may result in a comma splice.

The problem with 2 is that the 'both ... and ... ' construct is used as 'both and '. But in my case I am using it as 'both and '. Not sure if that is correct either.

Can you please help me solve my problem eliminating the em-dash in my original sentence, either by fixing one of my alternatives or any new suggestions?

Thanks.

  • I see no problm with using your first sentence. But i'd remove comma before 'and' - then the sentence would be - "I am an essential part of this society not only as a citizen but also as a son, a husband and a parent which makes me equally responsible." – Leo Nov 27 '14 at 7:21
2

In most cases the em-dash can be replaced by commas. You might lose a subtle distinction in emphasis, but nothing will change logically. In your sentence, the final "which" is also ambiguous (it has no clear antecedent), so I would fix that as well. Here's a rewrite:

"I am an essential part of this society, not only as a citizen but also as a son, a husband, and a parent, and am therefore equally responsible."

  • This is dangerously close to a run-on sentence. – Ringo Jun 3 '17 at 19:45
  • no it's not. it's perfectly grammatical. – Jonah Jun 3 '17 at 19:50
  • I think it's both at once. – Ringo Jun 4 '17 at 4:10

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