In this example:

bla bla bla phrase such as even if something like this doesn’t exist bla bla bla.

What can I use to inject my phrase in the middle of the sentence?

  • ,phrase, (commas)
  • ;phrase; (semicolons)
  • —phrase— (dashes)

closed as not a real question by Matt E. Эллен, Andrew Leach, tchrist, user19148, Daniel Oct 11 '12 at 13:16

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 6
    Please give a real example, probably explicitly showing the actual options you want advice on. What you have in your question makes no sense. – Andrew Leach Oct 9 '12 at 10:07

A parenthesis is an interruption. It is a remark which you insert into the middle of a sentence as if you are interrupting yourself.

In writing, the parenthesis is separated from the interrupted sentence using punctuation. You have a choice of several punctuation marks. One of them, the parenthesis, is named for this use.

Here are the marks which are commonly used for this purpose in American English. I also give common American English name(s) for the marks.

  • comma-space:

    Bla bla bla, even if this doesn’t exist, bla bla bla.

  • em-dash or space-en-dash-space (or hyphens, when en-dash and em-dash are not available):

    Bla bla bla—even if this doesn’t exist—bla bla bla. (em-dash)
    Bla bla bla---even if this doesn’t exist---bla bla bla. (em-dash using hyphen)
    Bla bla bla – even if this doesn’t exist – bla bla bla. (en-dash)
    Bla bla bla -- even if this doesn’t exist -- bla bla bla. (en-dash using hyphen)

  • space-bracket, bracket-space, using any of the various brackets invented for this purpose:

    Bla bla bla (even if this doesn’t exist) bla bla bla. (parenthesis or round bracket)
    Bla bla bla [even if this doesn’t exist] bla bla bla. (bracket or square bracket)

Semicolon (;) is not used for parenthesis. It is used more like a period (.), to separate complete sentences.

Style guides such as The Chicago Manual of Style will generally suggest the use of a particular mark for a particular kind of interruption. The square bracket, for instance, is often recommended when interrupting a quotation with an editorial remark:

The witness said: “He [the policeman] hit me.” (Example from EnglishClub.)


The most common recipe for unicorn burgers—even if they do not exist—calls for phoenix eggs and mermaid tears.

Assuming you mean what I think you mean, I think dashes are correct here. Brackets would probably work as well in less formal writing.

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