Specifically, can I write something like "—(x)—"?

For example,

I thought x—(which was y)—so z.

  • 3
    What are you aiming to achieve by doing so? Feb 7, 2022 at 20:20
  • I was amused by the overemphasis it created, but I wasn't sure if that was only in my head and came off as bad grammar.
    – Duc
    Feb 7, 2022 at 20:29
  • I would avoid this. Pick dashes or parentheses. You don't need both.
    – dacastr
    Feb 7, 2022 at 20:47
  • If you have to ask yourself whether it's "bad grammar," it's maybe advisable do it. Winnie the Pooh and Gollum both break conventions of style and usage, but the authors do so consciously for effect and know what they're breaking. Feb 7, 2022 at 21:26
  • I can imagine the effect you're aiming for—parenthesis is not only a feature of punctuation but of rhetoric, and there are cues of vocal pitch that we associate with em dashes (interruption) and with parenthetical asides. Your goal is to combine the two. But the distinction is so esoteric that I think it would be lost on the reader, and the hyperpunctuation reads confusingly. Meanwhile, that would leave the topic of language (this Stack Exchange) and get into general advice about writing style, which isn't on topic here. Feb 7, 2022 at 21:27

1 Answer 1


According to the UIS Center for Academic Success:

No mark of punctuation should ever precede a parentheses, but you can use punctuation after the closing parentheses if necessary.

This means no, don't punctuate like that. In fact, they seem to recommend against variations on what you want to do, as dashes and parentheses "must be used judiciously, and sparingly".

Though this is only one style recommendation, it matches up with how I've seen people write across many different types of writing.

In your context, I would use commas. No need to over-punctuate.

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