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I ran into a sentence which I would like to share in here to prepare the context for my question.

"it was shown that TBT, HBT, and HSDT1 have the same results in order to derive fundamental frequency of the nanobeam – ABT and EBT are the same as well – in all of the different selected aspect ratios and gradient index parameters."

Now, I need to know if the two dashes used in this sentence represent what grammar calls 'parenthetical phrase'! Plus, I guess using dashes in sentences has become a bit of tradition and commas are good replacements for them. Correct me if I am wrong.

  • dashes and commas serve different purposes. research before posting. – Darshan Chaudhary Mar 6 '17 at 10:55
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    Actually, it's probably the other way around -- dashes are getting more popular. Dashes, commas, and parentheses are all used for parenthetical phrases (though each is used for other things as well). It's mainly a matter of style and emphasis. – Hot Licks Mar 6 '17 at 12:50
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Yes, the two dashes in the sentence represent "parenthetical phrase" or you can simply say that the dashes set apart any extra information relevant to that particular sentence. The dashes can be replaced by the commas (parenthetical commas). I won't say the use of dashes for this purpose is diminished. Based on what I come across (in medical and healthcare-related texts), I frequently see dashes used as "parenthetical commas". The usage is not wrong.

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    Actually, commas cannot be substituted in the example given. That would yield an incorrectly punctuated sentence. Parentheses or dashes are the only options here. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 6 '17 at 13:31
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Parenthetically speaking ( that is to say, speaking of parentheses ), the frequent use of dashes for parenthetical thoughts does not necessarily indicate a correct use of dashes or correct grammar.

In the example sentence

"it was shown that TBT, HBT, and HSDT1 have the same results in order to derive fundamental frequency of the nanobeam – ABT and EBT are the same as well – in all of the different selected aspect ratios and gradient index parameters."

i see no reason to use dashes in place of parentheses ( or commas for that matter.)

As to the OP's question

"I need to know if the two dashes used in this sentence represent what grammar calls 'parenthetical phrase"

I would say no, it represents a break in thought. If it were a parenthetical phrase then technically it would be in parentheses. ( just a parenthetical thought. )

Yea closer to zero reputation points. ? My answer is a valid answer.

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    Sorry Sir, but the whole concept of "parenthetical phrase" you have is wrong. "Parenthetical phrase" or just "a break in thought" is just an extra information relevant to that particular sentence, which interrupts or disrupts the readability of that sentence. It does not mean that these have to be set in parenthesis. They can be set apart from the sentence using commas as well as dashes. Style guides such as the CMS, AMA and also APA allow the use of commas and dashes. Best Regards! – Fahad Shaikh Mar 7 '17 at 6:21
  • Thank for the resources. My Thought is that a parenthetical phrase is "relevant to that particular sentence" and should be in parentheses and that a non relevant break in thought or anecdote should not be in parentheses. There should be some way to distinguish between the two. I take your point that it is accepted but i disagree with it. – Alaska Man Mar 7 '17 at 8:29

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