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What punctuation is preferable in the sentence below?

Complex sentences have two clauses, one main (or independent) and one subordinate (or dependent).

Complex sentences have two clauses: one main (or independent) and one subordinate (or dependent).

Is using an em dash an option here?

Complex sentences have two clauses — one main (or independent) and one subordinate (or dependent).

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    All three are valid, and for all intents and purposes are saying the exact same thing. While they do generally mean different, or ever-so-slightly different, things, I submit that in this particular case that does not matter one bit. I know which one I'd pick, but that'd be entirely for reasons of style, not meaning. Just make sure to be consistent within the same document. Pick one style and stick to it. – RegDwigнt Aug 8 '15 at 15:19
  • @Red If I currently do not have a style, which one would you suggest using? – Siegfried Zaytsev Aug 10 '15 at 10:35
  • @SiegfriedZaytsev Pick one if you are not being asked to conform to a house style. – choster Aug 18 '15 at 1:56
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I prefer the first two over the one with the dash. When I get to the dash, I think a whole clause is coming next.

I prefer the first version over the second, for the same reason as in the case of the dash.

Note, it is possible to overdo parentheses. You might want to replace the parentheses with commas here.

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  • I feel like using colon in this example because I provide details to the main statement ("complex sentences have two clauses"). Also it sort of short list of 2 items, and lists with colon don't need to be independent clauses. What do you think? – Siegfried Zaytsev Aug 9 '15 at 15:41
  • @SiegfriedZaytsev - You may certainly use the colon. It is correct and a matter of personal preference! – aparente001 Aug 10 '15 at 0:29

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