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First off, I apologies for the redundancy of this question. I am aware that there are already several questions dedicated to the use of colons and/or semicolons. However, non of the questions I saw seemed to address sentences with grammatical structure similar to my own and I was unable to determine what punctuation I should use. Should I use a colon, semicolon, or some other punctuation? (I will indicate with a question mark the location of the punctuation in question.)

  1. Far from an encumbrance, he regarded her aspirations as an occasion to mold himself to the cherished contours of her heart ? to let her rupture his soul into metamorphosis.
  2. It was the only way he knew to requite the scandalous honor she had bestowed upon him in her obstinate determination to wed him ? an unprecedented impropriety that had incensed her family, but one which would always wreathe his memory in pleasure.

In neither example do I feel confident that the resulting halves as divided by ? are independent clauses or complete sentences (a requisite for semicolons, I believe). At least, I do not believe that starting from and following to let her rupture & an unprecedented impropriety are stand alone sentences (given the manner in which they begin). So I am hesitant to use a semicolon. However, I am not sure that either of these examples are congruent with any of the grammatical structures outlined in other questions as warranting the employment of a colon. Irregardless, I feel that a mere comma would be insufficient.

  • Consider the Em dash. -- Two hyphens on the keyboard, which most word processors will convert to a 1/M dash. – Xanne Mar 8 '17 at 1:52
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    An Em dash would indeed work. You can type an Em dash (—) directly on a mac at least with shift-alt-dash. An En dash is a bit narrower – used to separate a parenthetical statement – which you can type using alt-dash. If you don't like either of those, I'd suggest a comma for the first and a colon for the second. Doesn't need to be a complete sentence to use a comma. Also 'an unprecedented…' elaborates on 'her determination to wed him' and so a colon is just what you want. – Jangari Mar 8 '17 at 2:16
  • @Jangari, I much appreciate, and will use your suggestion for comma and colon. It was useless submitting either sentence to any free online grammar checkers since they simply stated that both colon or semicolon were accurate in both examples (which I doubted). – Peter Mar 8 '17 at 3:40
  • @Jangari, As an aside, in the following article "dashes" are explained without making distinction between Em & En. (writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/semi-colons-colons-and-dashes) Firstly, is 3. to mark "bonus phrases" (under the explanation of dash usage) the same as a parenthetical statement? Secondly, the dash that the article uses appears to me to be an Em dash (though I could be mistaken). Are Em & En dashes limited to specific purposes distinct from each other? – Peter Mar 8 '17 at 3:48
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    Also, for a perhaps more authoritative description of Em, En and ø-dashes, see english.stackexchange.com/questions/2116/… – Jangari Mar 8 '17 at 3:56

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