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Is it grammatically correct to use an em dash to add emphasize to the next phrase/word?

Here's how I would usually use it

Some are carpenters — some are dentists.

I want to emphasize "some are dentists" so there will be a slight pause when reading.

Another example:

It's a Bird, It's a Plane — No it's Superman.

Thank you in advance!

  • Really, if you’re asking a question about em dashes, shouldn’t you make the effort to find out how to obtain them on your keyboard and operating system? Stack Exchange supports UTF-8 now — you don’t have to use hacks from the last century. – David Feb 10 at 20:23
  • I apologize and I understand. I should have been more meticulous when writing this. – Pennf0lio Feb 10 at 20:44
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    No problem. On your question, as you are using it the em dash is not adding emphasis but it making the contrast more evident, and is quite allowable. Certainly some punctuation is needed — it could have been a comma. Personally I would not use bold for emphasis, and not the whole phrase. I’d emphasize the single word that is different — dentist etc. That way the rest doesn’t dilute it. And I would use italics, rather than bold — that tends to be the traditional literary style. But this is just my opinion, hence a comment rather than an answer. – David Feb 10 at 23:19
  • Thank you, @David. Yes, I kinda agree in using a comma instead of em dash; and using italic instead of making it bold. I made it bold because I thought visually it suggests that the reader should read it louder than normal. I'm not versed in literary styles. Can I ask for a suggestion? If you would write "Some are carpenters, some are dentists." with a 2-second pause in between and emphasizing (slightly in a different tone) the second phrase how would you write it? – Pennf0lio Feb 11 at 11:33
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    I hesitate to advise as this site isn't a literary criticism site (surprised this hasn't been chopped off already), most of my writing is technical or web, and I'm not clear of the type of writing you intend this for. And pauses of 2 sec sounds like it's the script of a film or a play. If it were reported speech of the latter type, you could break it into two, as "Some are carpenters…" he started "…but some are dentists" he continued. Otherwise I'd just go for "Some are carpenters — some are dentists". But others may have better suggestions. – David Feb 11 at 13:33

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