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How can I use a dash to correctly connect two and thoughts in a sentence? Is the following sentence correct with the dash in from or should I remove it?

An S database allows access from – and can be opened by multiple applications at the same time.

I am not familiar with the English grammar jargon and don't know how to properly call what I am attempting to do with that dash.

Although I still want to learn about the dash, would the following alternative sentence be correct?

An S database allows access from, and can be opened by, multiple applications at the same time.

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    That depends – are you trying to grab the reader by the throat?
    – J.R.
    Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 18:18
  • Message received, go easy on the dashes!
    – Daniel
    Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 18:29

2 Answers 2

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Your second example is the correct way to express the concepts in your sentences using commas.

The use of dashes would not be appropriate in these circumstances. You mention joining and thoughts. The connection of equally weighted concepts is not usually joined with dashes, and if punctuation is needed, it is usually commas or semicolons.

Dashes are usually used within a sentence to indicate a side thought, often called a parenthetical phrase, because it could also be put inside of parentheses. An example would be

An S database - the most versatile of storage systems - allows access from,and can be opened by, multiple applications at the same time.

The commas are needed in your sentence because the verb phrases allows access from and can be opened by use different prepositions. If there were no prepositions, you could use and without the commas, such as

An S database can access and open multiple applications at the same time

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    An S database allows access from, and can be opened by, multiple applications at the same time. An S database allows access from - and can be opened by - multiple applications at the same time. An S database allows access from (and can be opened by) multiple applications at the same time. The term parenthesis is used for the syntactically non-essential insert in each of these equally grammatical variants (grammar-monster.com/lessons/…) . Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 22:11
  • The different degrees of emphasis are discussed at quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/… . Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 22:12
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To answer your question, you can use a dash there but would need a dash after 'by' also. It technically should be an 'em' dash, which is usually two dashes in a row.

You can also use commas, which I am now seeing you've updated your question to reflect, as I type this.

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  • I think I've seen the use of a single dash along these lines, although I cannot remember where. I'll use the commas instead if it is correct. Would the sentence be correct without the commas and without the dash?
    – Daniel
    Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 18:11
  • Some word processors will format am em dash as one long dash, Word for example. You need some form of punctuation; otherwise the sentence will be ambiguous at best, but pretty much wrong.
    – trpt4him
    Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 18:56

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