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I have a convoluted sentence that I am struggling to get punctuated correctly.

Sam is talking with Perkins.

"This is costing me money," Perkins retorted. "And Triple A doesn't pay enough as it is."

"Sorry to be costing you money," Sam said. "Ashcroft Apartments. Do you remember, not this past Sunday, but the Sunday before that--"

"Buddy," the driver interrupted, "I don't even know what day today is."

The interrupted question is what I'm struggling with, but will pay attention to other suggestions as well.

Should there be a comma after 'remember'? And should there be a question mark after the dash?

Thanks very much in advance!

2 Answers 2

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As I interpret that passage, there is a question, followed by an explanation of that question. That is, what the speaker is asking could be paraphrased as:

[Question:] Do you remember when we were (or what happened) in Ashcroft Apartments? [Explanation:] We were (or it happened) in Ashcroft Apartments two weeks ago.

If that is what you want to say, I would segment that passage like this:

"Do you remember? Not this past Sunday, but the Sunday before that--"

The explanation isn't a question and therefore doesn't need a question mark.

On the other hand, you could think of the second sentence as a question as well. That is, the passage could be paraphrased as:

[Question:] Do you remember when we were (or what happend) in Ashcroft Apartments? [Question:] Do you remember that it was two weeks ago?

Then I would add a question mark after the em dash to indicate the intonation of the interrupted sentence:

"Do you remember? Not this past Sunday, but the Sunday before that—?"


As a side note, the sentence "Not this past Sunday, but the Sunday before that" seems complete to me and not broken off at all. I don't understand how that sentence could have continued after the em dash.

If you want the sentence to be broken off mid sentence, then actually break it off, e.g.:

"Ashcroft Apartments. Do you remember? Not this past Sunday, but the Sunday bef–"

A sentence cannot be interrupted at its end, so your example, as you give it, should be written:

"Ashcroft Apartments. Do you remember? Not this past Sunday, but the Sunday before that./?"

— with a full stop or question mark, depending on how you want the second sentence to be intonated.

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    It's possible that "Not this past Sunday, but the Sunday before that-?" could be followed up with a "when [insert events that took place]?" In that case, I would start a part that makes it unambiguous that the sentence would continue or cut it off mid-word to make it obvious there was more to come.
    – hszmv
    May 5, 2023 at 12:25
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I would also suggest that you should use a dash when the interrupt is sudden and use ellipses when the interrupt is during a pregnant pause where the interrupted character is trying to find the right words.

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