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SusanAthena
SusanAthena, Master's Degree
Category: Writing Homework
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In the middle of some dialogue, I dont like the way that this

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In the middle of some dialogue, I don’t like the way that this passage flows:

I couldn’t do anything to save her. I was surrounded by trained fighters.

Is it OK and legal to word as:

I couldn’t do anything to save her; I was surrounded by trained fighters.

Or, is it better to word as:

I couldn’t do anything to save her—I was surrounded by trained fighters.
Hi. Thanks for your question!

All 3 ways of punctuating this text are grammatically correct. The semicolon separates two complete sentences. It's accurate, but slightly formal. The em-dash can be used to show a break in thought of almost any kind, almost like an ellipsis. It's rather informal, and should be used sparingly.

http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/dashes.asp

I agree that the original (with two short sentences) is rather choppy. It really doesn't show the cause-and-effect relationship between the two sentences.

For dialogue, I think the em dash works best to show a pause in speech, then the connection between the two related thoughts.

Kind regards,
Susan

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Hi. I'm just following up to see how your writing class is going. You can request me at any time by starting your question with "For Susan". We have lots of great writing experts here at JA and are here to help 24/7!

Kind regards,
Susan

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