a dash + a fragment (structure)


Senior Member
Now Representative Edolphus Towns, a New York Democrat who is the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said Johnson & Johnson had used delaying tactics in its dealings with the committee and in some instances had provided misinformation — accusations the company denies. ---taken from the NYT

Dear all,

I have trouble with the last part. To me, the above should have ended with "misinformation". However, a dash takes a fragment conveying more information, which sounds strange to me in terms of structure. Could you explain it to me? Thanks.

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    Senior Member
    American English
    For me, the dash is often the punctuational equivalent of a drum roll -- a short dramatic introduction to something the writer wants to stand out.

    Here is the sentence simplified: Representative Edolphus Towns ... said Johnson & Johnson had used delaying tactics … and … provided misinformationaccusations the company denies.

    The first two bold phrases are details of the accusations, but the word "accusations" is not used -- it is used after the dash to describe what they are and to note that the company denies them.


    American English
    Hello LQZ.

    The dash is called an em dash, which separates a phrase —which could be a break in sentence structure or thought— from the rest of the sentence. It can introduce a new (related) thought, or phrase giving more information and explanation to the previous clause.

    Em dashes can replace commas, colons, semicolons, parentheses... My college professor has said that the em dash is stronger than a comma, but not as strong as the period.

    There is also en dash as well as em dash if you care to look them up!
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