There are a lot of posts asking if it's okay to mix commas and dashes like this:

I walked my dog – who is nice, around the neighborhood.

And that's definitely not correct.

But what about the case of using the dash and comma simultaneously?

Which of these is correct?

I walked my dog, Frank – who is nice, around the neighborhood.

I walked my dog, Frank – who is nice – around the neighborhood.


The sentence contains incidental information within incidental information. An appositive within an appositive. This is equivalent to:

I walked my dog [Frank (who is nice)] around the neighborhood.

However, when using dashes and commas, I've read I can't do this:

I walked my dog, Frank – who is nice –, around the neighborhood.

So, I have to close two, "brackets," with one punctuation mark: a dash or a comma.

The lack of a "closing" dash troubles me just as much as the lack of a "closing" comma.

  • 2
    If you use a dash to introduce a comment on the side you must use another one at the end, the same as when using brackets (parentheses). A single dash (-) is sufficient, though, not a double one (--). Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 7:52
  • It's fine to use more than one type of bracket. In fact, the order of brackets is ([{
    – Lordology
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 18:29
  • Simplify! I walked my dog down to the dog park. He's a charmer. Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 3:32

2 Answers 2


[W]ho is nice is a clause adding incidental information about the dog. It could be put in brackets or it could be enclosed by commas either side. For more immediacy we could also put dashes either side. The commas or the dashes act like opening and closing brackets. I wouldn't put a dash before the clause and a comma afterwards, because, until the end of the sentence, the reader might still be looking for the 'closing' dash. I would be!


You don't need a comma after the final dash. According to The Punctuation Guide,

Em dashes in place of commas

A pair of em dashes can be used in place of commas to enhance readability. Note, however, that dashes are always more emphatic than commas.

And yet, when the car was finally delivered⁠—nearly three months after it was ordered⁠—she decided she no longer wanted it, leaving the dealer with an oddly equipped car that would be difficult to sell.

This (paywalled) Chicago Manual of Style forum provides leverage:

There should never be a comma after an em dash; the em dash takes the place of the comma.

Therefore, one way to punctuate the sentence is,

I walked Frank, my dog—who is nice—around the neighborhood.

Like this, you would be emphasising "Frank is nice".

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