Interesting Construction with Dashes and Questions

Margie Wakeman Wells The Comma, The Dash, The Question Mark 4 Comments

This is a sentence I was asked about on Facebook. And I have it correctly punctuated here.

Have there been any major stressful events in the last year that you can think of — divorce? someone, a family member, dying? a major change in your work? — that has caused additional stress?

There are dashes around the suggested answers for two reasons:

1.  The sentence continues after the list. So a colon will not work.
2.  The question marks are correct because each one is asking a question.

In addition, there is no cap on “divorce” because it comes after a dash. There are commas around “a family member” because it is an appositive to “someone.”

Happy punctuating!


Comments 4

  1. This is an excellent example, Margie. Thank you. I was struggling over a very similar sentence just this last week, and I’m happy to see that I chose the right punctuation. Now that you’ve put the reasons into words, though, I won’t have to struggle over it the next time around. 🙂

  2. Hoping you will respond to this, even though it a quite an old post. I have been searching for information on how to punctuate a similar sentence, but it has some slightly different elements.
    “Please do not respond to things relating to was the block in place, what happened next, did he follow the rules, and that would be all of it.”
    Would the above punctuation work here?

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