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What is the proper way to punctuate this sentence? Colon, em dash, or comma?

  • Eating at a homeless shelter since March has provided me with a look into the thoughts of other people: both the homeless themselves and their friends.

  • Eating at a homeless shelter since March has provided me with a look into the thoughts of other people — both the homeless themselves and their friends.

  • Eating at a homeless shelter since March has provided me with a look into the thoughts of other people, both the homeless themselves and their friends.

Also, is there supposed to be a comma between "themselves" and "and"?

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, curiousdannii, FumbleFingers, jimm101, Helmar Oct 19 '16 at 12:37

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  • After reading that post, I'm still a little confused. You could classify that as a list, so I then I should probably use a colon right? But then I would also need to use a comma to separate the list? – Benji Oct 19 '16 at 8:31
  • Any is acceptable here (though the colon comes across as a little stuffy). The dash signals a longer pause (for contrast, or thought). The comma is optional, but I wouldn't include it if you've already chosen to use one after 'people'. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 19 '16 at 8:34
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All three are correct, but I would personally choose the comma.

Oxford comma should not be used for that sentence (between "themselves" and "and") as you are only referring to two groups.

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