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Could someone please tell me if I've correctly punctuated the following sentence (specifically, if I've correctly used the dash and commas highlighted bloew)? Also, is the period at the end of the word "voice" better served by a comma or semicolon?

My partner and I had been patrolling the Rideau Canal Skateway—a nearly 8 km stretch of ice and snow, serving as the world's largest outdoor skating rink for nearly two uneventful when I heard a voice. “This way!” shouted a voice in the distance.

Thank you!

Alex

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    Dashes set off parenthetical insertions, so you need a "closing" dash somewhere. And "for nearly two uneventful" doesn't make sense. – Andrew Leach Dec 30 '18 at 10:33
  • The reason a closing dash is important is because there are two possible meanings: "My partner and I had been patrolling the Rideau Canal Skateway—a nearly 8 km stretch of ice and snow, serving as the world's largest outdoor skating rink for nearly two uneventful years —when I heard a voice," or "My partner and I had been patrolling the Rideau Canal Skateway—a nearly 8 km stretch of ice and snow, serving as the world's largest outdoor skating rink—for nearly two uneventful hours, when I heard a voice." – Andrew Leach Dec 30 '18 at 10:56
  • Ah, I see. In the boded example, it sounds as if the skating rink has served as the world's largest outdoor rink for two years. Is that correct? Thanks for your help, Andrew! – Alex K Dec 30 '18 at 21:22
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The sentence is very long and just doesn't flow very well, since it contains both a description of something (the skating rink) and things happening (patrolling & hearing the voice).

Also, as already noted in the comments, "skating rink for nearly two uneventful when" doesn't make sense. I assume you meant that you were patrolling for two uneventful hours.

Here's my attempt to fix it up:

My partner and I were tasked with patrolling the Rideau Canal, a nearly 8 km stretch of ice and snow which serves as the world's largest outdoor skating rink. We had been patrolling for two uneventful hours when I heard something. “This way!” shouted a voice in the distance.

Or alternatively, if you must use dashes:

My partner and I were tasked with patrolling the Rideau Canal—a nearly 8 km stretch of ice and snow—serving as the world's largest outdoor skating rink. We had been patrolling for two uneventful hours when I heard something. “This way!” shouted a voice in the distance.

  • Hi Aron, Correct. Sorry, I accidentally forgot to include the word, "hours". As a general rule of thumb, is it preferred to separate a description of something and a description of things happening? Thanks for your help! – Alex K Dec 30 '18 at 21:15
  • IMO yes but I'm not sure if this is an English thing, seems more of a general language thing to split up an idea into separate thoughts. – Aaron Franke Dec 31 '18 at 17:47

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