I know that we can introduce a list with a semicolon or an em dash, but nowhere can I find any rules on punctuation when a list ends mid-sentence. Say I have a sentence that goes like this:

Lawn mowers, pruners, garden trowels, watering canes ... you'll find these and many more tools in our gardening equipment shop.

What should be put in place of the three dots? An em dash?

  • Personally, in that example, I would use a semi-colon, but an em dash may well be the choice of some. You can both start and end a list with an em dash e.g. "I have seen them all - lawn mowers, pruners, watering cans - listed in their advertisements."
    – WS2
    May 18, 2019 at 12:59
  • Personally I tend towards em dash, but I would also be tempted with a colon. Other valid options include a suspension mark (ellipsis), semi-colon, or (if you give you'll an initial capital) a full stop, exclamation mark or even question mark, depending on the message and tone you're trying to convey. It's a matter of style, so there's no one right answer, and any answer is likely to be based on personal opinion... May 19, 2019 at 4:21

1 Answer 1


I would usually just throw in an etc. after the list to indicate that I could say more, but it would be pointless additional detail. After that you can add whatever punctuation seems appropriate.

Lawn mowers, pruners, garden trowels, watering canes, etc. -- you'll find these and many more tools in our gardening equipment shop.

I prefer the em dash, since the list sounds like a nonrestrictive clause, even if technically it can't be, because you don't have a first part to the sentence, and because you reference the list in the second part. But it's the same kind of thought pattern, as a "side list" of examples.

Just as an example, this would be a nonrestrictive clause:

If you're looking for gardening tools -- lawn mowers, pruners, etc. -- you'll find them in our garden equipment bay.

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