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I want a big house, a house that is big enough for my family.
or
I want a big house—a house that is big enough for my family.
or
I want a big house. A house that is big enough for my family.

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(You can see a bullet point of what you can use and why you might want to use one method over another at the end of this overly long answer)

Can Use

Comma

I want a big house, one that's big enough to fit my family.

Using a comma makes the phrase (one that's big enough to fit my family) more a part of the sentence and less emphasized. Notice that I changed "a house" to "one." Using a comma with "a house" is somewhat awkward as "a house" makes the phrase seem as if it should be emphasized whereas the commas indicate that it should not be emphasized. I also changed "it is" to "it's" also to make the phrase sound less emphasized.

Em Dash

I want a big house---a house that is big enough to fit my family.

Using an em dash makes the phrase less a part of the sentence (it stands out on it's own kind of like how this parenthetical clause stands out from the sentence I'm typing right now) but more emphasized.

En Dash

I want a big house -- a house that is big enough to fit my family.

Grammatically, this is the same as an em dash. The difference is that an en dash is shorter and has a space before and after it. It's up to your own personal preference whether you use em dashes or en dashes -- just be consistent. As you can see, I like en dashes better.

Parentheses

I want a big house (a house that is big enough to fit my family.)

Using parentheses sets the phrase apart from the main sentence the most and emphasizes it the least.

Nothing

I want a house that is big enough to fit my family.

You can also do this, but I don't think that's what you want.

Conclusion

For this particular case, I would go with em/en dashes or with commas making the changes I suggested in the "Comma" section.

Can't Use

Period

Doesn't Work

I want a big house. A house that is big enough to fit my family.

This doesn't work because "A house that is big enough to fit my family" doesn't have a main verb. The verb "is" isn't the main verb. It's part of the adjective clause "that is big enough to fit my family" which modifies "house." The subject is "house," but there is no verb that the house does. The word "is" is what "that" does.

If I lost you in there, just know that "A house that is big enough to fit my family" is a fragment. Therefore, using a period to separate the two doesn't work.

In order to make the period work, you would have to fix the fragment:

Works

I want a big house. I want a house that is big enough to fit my family.

Still, this is redundant as it repeats "I want" and isn't the best way to say it. However, it is grammatically correct.

Semicolon

Doesn't Work

I want a big house; a house that is big enough to fit my family.

Semicolons separate two dependent clauses (clauses that could stand alone as a full sentence). Since the second part of this sentence doesn't have a verb and thus isn't a dependent clause, you cannot use a semicolon.

Works

I want a big house; I want a house that is big enough to fit my family.

Now this is the clumsiest of all. It is grammatically correct, but it is a bad way to write that sentence. For one thing, it is redundant. For another thing, colons should be used to separate two clauses where the second clause explains the first clause more (see example of colon). Semicolons should not be used to do that.

Colon

Doesn't Work

I want a big house: a house that is big enough to fit my family.

Like the semicolon, colons are supposed to separate two dependent clauses. Since the second part of the sentence ("A house that ... fit my family") isn't a dependent clause, using a colon does not work.

Works

I want a big house: I want a house that is big enough to fit my family.

While this is also redundant, it still does work because the second clause gives more details about the first clause. Using a colon and using a period would work well if you wanted the person saying this to sound determined to get a bigger house.

Final Conclusion

  • You just do nothing: "I want a house big enough to fit my family."
  • Or you could use a comma if you want a just a bit more emphasis: "I want a big house, one that's big enough to fit my family"
  • Or you could use a dash if you want even more emphasis: "I want a big house -- one that's big enough to fit my family"
  • Or you could use two sentences if you want the person to sound determined: "I want a big house. I want a house that's big enough to fit my family."
  • Or you could use a colon also to make the speaker sound determined: "I want a big house: I want a house that's big enough to fit my family."

Personally, I would probably go with an em dash, especially if you want to use the exact words that you gave in your example.

  • I believe a colon is acceptable in I want a big house: a house that is big enough to fit my family., not as joining clauses, but as a specifier. Compare to "You must paint it my favorite color: blue." – Andrew Lazarus Mar 1 at 0:43

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