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How do I say this?

 
 
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2015 12:14 pm
I'm writing my college application essay, so when writing I must consider more than just getting the ideas across. I must try to do so in the standardized way. I have come across an issue and I'm not sure what the best way to write it is.

My sentence:
"In short, when confronted with options A and B, I’ll often pick C– something else entirely–, D– all of the above– or E– recognition that the question itself is meaningless."

Issue:
In this case, I can't use parentheses to elaborate on what each choice is because they aren't asides– they are essential to what I'm saying. I can't use commas because then I get a billion gazillion commas (with the listing and whatnot) and it becomes illegible. I'm not sure about dashes because then I get –, which looks really word is probably not grammatically correct. I don't know if it makes sense to use commas for expansion and then have semi-colons for listings. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Keep in mind that I have very limited space in which to write this essay, so shorter this sentence can be, the better. It could totally be written avoiding my issues, but in all of those cases would end up being longer.

Thanks!!
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dalehileman
 
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Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2015 01:15 pm
@davidlalo,
I’ll often pick C, that is, something else entirely; D, all of the above; or E, recognition that the question itself is meaningless

I’ll often pick C, or something else entirely; D, or all of the above; or E, recognition that the question itself is meaningless

I’ll often pick C (something else entirely), D (all of the above), or E (recognition that the question itself is meaningless)

I’ll often pick C, something else entirely, D, all of the above, or E, recognition that the question itself is meaningless


Hope have helped, Dave
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2015 02:49 pm
@dalehileman,
I like your first sentence using semicolon, albeit not using 'that is'.

But it's been a while since I've had to craft a formal essay.

I'd suggest a look at Elements of Style by Strunk and White, a worthwhile investment.

This diagram may help a lot; but it does not include dash:
http://www.vappingo.com/word-blog/5-complicated-punctuation-marks-explained-in-one-simple-picture/

It is worthwhile to note that punctuation rules seem to be changing, perhaps because they are so routinely broken, even by accomplished writers. For college entry, however, I suggest following an established authority.
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2015 03:27 pm
@davidlalo,
davidlalo wrote:

My sentence:
"In short, when confronted with options A and B, I’ll often pick C– something else entirely–, D– all of the above– or E– recognition that the question itself is meaningless."


Break it down into separate simple sentences.

jespah wrote:
In short, when confronted with options A and B, I’ll often pick C, something else entirely. Or I'll pick D, all of the above. Or I'll go with E, recognizing that the question itself is meaningless.
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dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Jun, 2015 04:00 pm
@neologist,
Quote:
...albeit not using 'that is'
Yea Neo I did have misgivings about that one


I felt it was needed to avoid the quick misreading of "something else entirely" as an independent item in the listing
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