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Sometimes it's clear to me. But other times I get kind of confused. Example:

After returning the materials back to their shelves, I turned—as were the others—the chair upside down on the table and followed the girl.

After returning the materials back to their shelves, I turned the chair—as were the others—upside down on the table and followed the girl.

(As were the others refers to the other chairs. They're already stacked on the other tables.)

In cases like this, I'm not very sure where to place the parenthetical em dash phrase. Is there any technique or tip I can use?

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The key is in what "as were the others" refers back to.

It's not just "the chairs." It's not even that "the chairs were upside-down." It's that "the other chairs" are in a specific state of being that you are matching: upside-down AND on the table.

After returning the materials back to their shelves, I turned the chair upside down on the table — as were the others — and followed the girl.

Also, when doing that kind of parenthetical, with a sentence fragment, make sure your grammar is parallel. "Were" is the verb "to be," and you don't have that earlier in your sentence. So:

After returning the materials back to their shelves, I turned the chair upside down on the table — like the others — and followed the girl.


In all honesty, I don't think this interrupter is important enough to merit M-dashes. I wouldn't even use commas.

After returning the materials back to their shelves, I turned the chair upside down on the table like the others and followed the girl.

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