comma, semicolon or colon with apposition: Company, a manufacturer

melbeach

New Member
English - American
Hi, first post here. I'm adding a professional profile at LinkedIn and am looking for help on punctuating a sentence:

Out of college, I was hired as Accounting Clerk at XYZ Company – a manufacturer of widgets.
In place of the dash, would I use a comma, colon, or semicolon? This seems like such a simple example, but I have yet to find the rule that defines it.

Thanks!
-melbeach
 
  • Hikee

    Senior Member
    Polish/English - bilingual
    In my contention a dash is absolutely fine.

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    tochinaandbach

    Member
    English - England
    Agreed, a dash is fine. You could also use a comma. The phrase after the dash is adjectival: it describes XYZ company. Because there's no verb there, you can't use a colon or semicolon.

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    Hikee

    Senior Member
    Polish/English - bilingual
    True, tochinaandbach - I haven't thought of that. I'm not native English speaker and so in school they always told me not to leave any "lonely" nouns. But you're right about the meanning though :)
     

    MuttQuad

    Senior Member
    English - AmE
    Hi, first post here. I'm adding a professional profile at LinkedIn and am looking for help on punctuating a sentence:

    In place of the dash, would I use a comma, colon, or semicolon? This seems like such a simple example, but I have yet to find the rule that defines it.

    Thanks!
    -melbeach

    The dash is fine (but you used a hyphen, not a real dash), although I'd prefer a comma.

    << Off topic. >>
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    << Moderator note.
    The topic of the thread is the punctuation of the sentence.
    We were not asked to comment on the substance of the sentence.
    panjandrum >>
     

    melbeach

    New Member
    English - American
    Agreed, a dash is fine. You could also use a comma. The phrase after the dash is adjectival: it describes XYZ company. Because there's no verb there, you can't use a colon or semicolon.

    In the past, I've always used a dash for a sentence like this. But after I looked into it more, the GrammarBook reference suggested that dashes are okay in casual writing but frowned upon in formal writing. (Please note that I can't post the link because I am new to the forum.) The reference also made the distinction between en dash and em dash. I imagine that my example would call for an em dash. But since my use of dash wasn't shown in the reference at all, I assumed that it was incorrect.

    I think that in my case, since I am posting a professional profile, I would be better off using a comma. Plus, the GrammarBook reference and others suggest that you should not enclose dashes with spaces. My example would look like this:

    Out of college, I was hired as Accounting Clerk at XYZ Company—a manufacturer of widgets.
    I don't like the appearance of this. So I will opt for a comma:

    Out of college, I was hired as Accounting Clerk at XYZ Company, a manufacturer of widgets.
    Thanks for the help!

    PS. MuttQuad, I believe I did use an en dash in my original post. To show the en dash, I typed "alt^0150". An em dash would be "alt^0151". In order, hyphen, en dash, em dash:
    - – —
    The difference is small, but you can see it.
     

    melbeach

    New Member
    English - American
    "XYZ Company" and "a manufacturer of widgets" are in apposition. A comma is correct.

    Excellent! This makes it official. I know why I got into the habit of using dashes. Some times that I see two or more commas in a sentence that relate to sentence structure, it seems like a run-on sentence to me. Using a dash where I did in my example always looked more aesthetically pleasing to me. The comma version, though correct, looks like a run-on to me.
     

    MuttQuad

    Senior Member
    English - AmE
    Thanks for the help!

    PS. MuttQuad, I believe I did use an en dash in my original post. To show the en dash, I typed "alt^0150". An em dash would be "alt^0151". In order, hyphen, en dash, em dash:
    - – —
    The difference is small, but you can see it.[/QUOTE]


    Technically, an en dash is used between figures (numerals) or to denote passage of time. The em dash is the one you want, although I admit it is a little ugly. Fine typographers used to use a 3/4-em dash, which left a little space on each side, in order to get a more esthetically pleasing effect. Digital fonts don't seem to have them.
     
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