This question already has an answer here:

I have three cars — blue, red, and green — , two motorcycles, and four bicycles.

Is this a correct use of comma after an em-dash? It seems quite weird. How should I use an em-dash and a comma here?

marked as duplicate by Andrew Leach, MrHen, RyeɃreḁd, Hellion, choster Oct 29 '13 at 17:48

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • The second dash is not needed, maybe even incorrect. – Kris Oct 29 '13 at 5:33
  • 3
    @Kris I disagree. Dashes usually appear in pairs when setting off an aside like this. Without the second dash, there's no marker for the end of the side comment. – Bradd Szonye Oct 29 '13 at 5:55
  • @BraddSzonye there is nothing parenthetical here. – Kris Oct 29 '13 at 6:07
  • The comma after the em dash is redundant. A semi-colon in place of the first em dash would be okay if the second em dash was also dropped. Either fix would work grammatically. – Stan Oct 29 '13 at 17:40

See "D-a-s-h-e-s" [pdf 512kB]

To prepare for a list, a restatement, an amplification, or a dramatic shift in tone or thought:

  • Along the wall are the bulk liquids—sesame oil, honey, safflower oil, and that half-liquid, “peanuts only” peanut butter.
  • In this last semester, Peter tried to pay more attention to his priorities—applying to graduate school and getting financial aid.
  • Everywhere we looked there were little kids—a box of Cracker Jacks in one hand and mommy or daddy’s sleeve in the other.
  • Kiere took a few steps back, came running full speed, kicked a mighty kick—and missed the ball.

In the first 2 examples, the writer could also use a colon. The colon is more formal than the dash and not quite as dramatic.

This is a case of both list and amplification. The phrase "blue, red, and green" lists and amplifies on "three cars."

  • 6
    This does not address the dash/comma combination at all, which is the crux of the question. – Bradd Szonye Oct 29 '13 at 11:54
  • @BraddSzonye No need for haste. See also Stan's comment at OP. Your enthusiasm is appreciated, though. – Kris Oct 30 '13 at 6:16

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.