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In this sentence

In conclusion, the reading claims that minimum wage is harmful to the companies, which the lecturer contradicts by providing three points –which form a compelling argument, to illustrate his viewpoint.

Is it grammatical to use "–" before which? And if so, should I replace the comma at the end of the same clause with an em dash as well? Or should I only use commas to set off the clause?

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    Too many which and too many points... In conclusion, the reading claims that minimum wage is harmful to the companies, contradicted by the lecturer in three points, which together form a compelling argument illustrating his view.
    – mplungjan
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 11:40
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    Looks like proof-reading. We're getting rather a lot of these. Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 11:43
  • @BarrieEngland you know, proof reading is good B-) Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 11:45
  • But proof-reading is off-topic on this site. This question would be more suitable at English Language Learners
    – TrevorD
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 11:50
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    If you put one dash (—) in that sentence, you need to put another in. That is, the phrase "which form a compelling argument" should be set off by two dashes or by two commas, but not by one of each. If you set it off by commas, the sentence becomes confusing because you have too many which clauses separated by commas. This is a good reason for either using dashes or rewriting the sentence. Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 11:51

1 Answer 1

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If we set aside the structure of the sentence (which I think could be improved), you can put an em-dash there, but if you do, you should also replace the comma at the end of the clause, thusly:

In conclusion, the reading claims that minimum wage is harmful to the companies, which the lecturer contradicts by providing three points—which form a compelling argument—to illustrate his viewpoint.

Putting em-dashes there makes it sound as though you are surprised that the three points form a compelling argument.

If you use commas instead, they should also match:

In conclusion, the reading claims that minimum wage is harmful to the companies, which the lecturer contradicts by providing three points, which form a compelling argument, to illustrate his viewpoint.

In this instance, commas are appropriate because the clause is parenthetical. However, I don't think you really mean to have a parenthetical clause there, so you might try something like:

In conclusion, the reading claims that minimum wage is harmful to the companies, which the lecturer contradicts by providing three points that form a compelling argument to illustrate his viewpoint.

Which would avoid the issue entirely.

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  • so what is better : In conclusion, the reading claims that minimum wage is harmful to the companies, which the lecturer contradicts by providing three points that form a compelling argument to illustrate his viewpoint. OR In conclusion, the reading claims that minimum wage is harmful to the companies, contradicted by the lecturer in three points, which together form a compelling argument illustrating his view ? please help me i have a toeff tomorrow Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 13:46
  • Either is fine. It depends on whether "form a compelling argument to illustrate his viewpoint" is important or not. Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 13:52
  • yes it is very important Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 16:35

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