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Using Dashes

 

Techniques > Use of language > Punctuation > Using Dashes

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Method

The em-dash () and the en-dash (−) are often similar in use, where they emphatically separate out 'aside' comments that fit between phrases and which are not a direct part of the containing sentences. Depending on taste, there may or may not be spaces either side of them (the en-dash tends to use separating spaces more than the em-dash).

You can also use a single dash to separate out and hence emphasis a particular point at the end of a sentence.

The en-dash is used to connect things of equal ranking, from dates to people.

In typed text, a double-hyphen is often used instead of the em-dash--which is about the same length--as the em-dash does not appear on normal keyboards.

Example

I am going to the pool − the one in Main Street − for a swim.

I am going to the poolthe one in Main Streetfor a swim.

He is hard-working, strong — and greedy.

19922006

Father−son bonding

Discussion

em- and en-dashes differ from parentheses in that the level of 'aside' is not quite as great. In spoken text, they are thus indicated by pauses, but spoken at the same volume as the main text.

Dashes give lots of visibility and hence grab the eye. This may not be desirable and so must be used with care.

The visibility adds emphasis, and the length of the dash also signals this.

See also

Using Parentheses, Using Commas

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