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  1. Saldana—Choi’s lawyer—started the argument.

  2. Saldana (Choi's lawyer) started the argument.

  3. Saldana, Choi's lawyer, started the argument.

Sometimes I have trouble figuring out which one I should use. Can someone please explain to me when I should each one of these? The definitions I've found online are very similar to each other.

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In fact all 3 constructions are grammatically correct and more or less equally suitable, but the use of dashes and parenthesis is a relatively relaxed style; the most formally elegant way to write it (in this specific case) would be with commas, as in your last example. You can even choose to avoid all such punctuating dividers whenever possible and write it out with perfect clarity as in "Choi's lawyer Saldana started the argument."

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