The following sentence comes to me a bit intricate:

The ultimate responsibility still rests in the hands of Internet users who vote – they, along with the officials elected to serve them, make up the global community.

I didn't understand the understand the use of the dash and the commas and what does the expression Internet users who vote – they... mean? Why did the writer use the personal pronoun "they " to refer to internet users? Does he need a new subject after the dash? What is after all the grammatical structure of this sentence?

I need an overall explanation of this sentence, please!

  • Why not substitute -- they with , who and read the sentence again? That should help understand it. The emphasis comes from the use of they rather than a lame who.
    – Kris
    Mar 30, 2014 at 6:22
  • The sentence is not unusual -- it's a way of structuring to emphasize/highlight the important elements.
    – Kris
    Mar 30, 2014 at 6:23

1 Answer 1


OK in English there are some relatively common forms. Particularly in spoken English, and particularly in a political setting.

A good example is the "three part list." Politicians are always saying things like: "I want what's best for my country. For my parents. And for my children."

(Note that Winston Churchill, for example, did this staggeringly beautifully and with epochal content value, and today's politicians do it horribly and cloyingly and as a cliché.)

If you look around in English - particularly in politics - you'll see zillions of examples of cheesey politicians using a "three part list" for emphasis.


Another "common form" is this "trailing dramatic reference to the sentence subject"

"We must care for our soliders - they are the ones who will die."

"I speak to you today about the children - they are our future."

"Everything I have done, I have done for the party - the party that is our life."

So you have a subject ("speaking to you today") which concerns a secondary subject ("the children"). Then you have the dramatic pause (when speaking) or dash (when writing on the internet), and after the pause/dash, you return to a heart-pulling description of that secondary subject.

{You can literally read about this "trick" -- along with as I say for example the "three part list" -- in the sort of pathetic book that political speech-writers write.}

[If you're not from the West, here we have people who tell politicians what to say to sound good on TV and the internet. :) ]

Note that say, if I was writing a sarcastic parody of a politician, I would have him speak in that manner. You see?

Note that, indeed, in the example at hand. The secondary descriptive phrase is indeed fatuous. (Indeed, it's just completely empty and silly. "They make up the global community." OK - so what?!)

Note that - indeed! - you can make humorous parodies of this "form", where the second phrase is especially empty and ridiculously meaningless:

"I talk to you today about the taxpayers ---- because they, are the ones who pay tax."

"We're doing what we do today for the children - because they are too young to slaughter millions with nuclear bombs."

Note that ANOTHER humorous form here is: you're expecting the second phrase to be really dramatic and political:

"Let's think about Europe - the birthplace of human rights."

... but instead you just say something prosaic and literal ...

"Let's think about Europe - the landmass East of the Atlantic."

I hope this gives you a sense of this "common form" in English.

English is absolutely packed with these, and a lot of for example (low-level) comedy TV writing and the like involves playing on these.

(Indeed! Note that the particular sentence at hand is so vacuous, so empty of content, that indeed it sounds like a parody. Was it from a parody, or something straight?) Hope it helps.


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